Belonging. Right there in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs, Restorative Justice helps people recognize where it is, rebuild it where it was torn or repair it where it was damaged. Restorative Justice, experienced from the perspective of victim, offender, community member holds potential to increase belonging. From bystander, family member, professional Restorative Justice gives us reasons to belong, because we all belong to humanity.
The smallest and the largest harms can be addressed in Restorative Justice, you simply expand the Circle as needed. More training, mentoring, preparation time for the more serious the offense. I feel so blessed to work in a range of environments from prevention (after school program circle) to a loss of life (mostly traffic fatalities). This range of work causes me to clearly identify the core values, principles and tactics of facilitating, implementing and providing Restorative Justice. I’m going to link you the principles for some elements of those tactics. Beyond knowing the tactics (principles, philosophies), Restorative Justice requires you to know the art. The artful skill of working with people hearts.
The art can be summarized with 3 C’s. Compassion, Connection, Caring. Bring your most balanced self to a restorative process. It could be a pre-conference meeting, and Circle preparation meeting, the Restorative Justice conference or Circle itself. The compassion you bring needs to be from a place of a balanced heart. In order to reach another’s heart, be familiar with your own.
Connect to others. Consider connection as a feeling. I recently read that a sign of a highly empathetic person, is a familiar face. People assume they met you before because the feeling of connection. Compassion and empathy are different. I believe compassion comes first, compassionate people care, compassionate people are strong enough to withhold judgements and empathize with others, versus judgements about another’s behavior, that prevents you from feeling what they might be feeling.
The notion of caring, is another heart skill. These touchy feely, esoteric concepts are sometimes best described by others. So clearly put, I have to use what someone said about a police officer. I was asking someone I trusted for an opinion about working with another. The feedback I got: “His ‘give a shit’, ain’t broke”. I understood what this meant. People know if you care. If you stay mindful of others, you genuinely have compassion, connection and caring, I believe your restorative work will be of benefit and provide even more belonging.