Part 1, is here. I picked 7 dating lessons I’ve learned. The post was long, so I made a part II, explaining the restorative angle on these lessons in love. I think my experience as an Restorative Justice facilitator and a chronic dater have merged:
1.) Keep your eyes open. If you are going to go into restorative justice process, as a facilitator OR a participant. Look at the whole picture. A board member helped me, by asking me to look at things from 10,000 feet. This made sense, and looking at the big picture adjusts the view. Just like you have to stand back to make sure the picture is hanging straight, step back and make sure you see the bigger picture.
2.) Patience. Offenders don’t always come around right away. Victims sometimes have to be out of the session with adequate time to reflect on it. I remember trying to detach myself from a victim who was still judgemental after a process. I had to let the vicitm have the experience they were having. I did all I could to clear the path for an open and respectful dialogue. I’ll never forget the story. The courts rolled into the court order the conditions developed in Circle. The victim was going to court, to offer the victim statement before the final order was declared by the Judge. Apparently as she drove to the hearing, she had to cross a bridge. She had the ‘epiphany’ then, the chance to finally disengage her harm in a way that no longer hurt her.
3.)Allow Love In. If we only have LOVE or FEAR and everything else in between, what do you want to pick. Its okay to have compassion for someone who harmed you. Its okay to be so sorry to community for harm, that it motivates you to be better. Its okay to love someone and not like what they did. Be a bigger person. Show love in your actions, reactions and it will come back to you.
4.) Let the airline lose your luggage. People make mistakes. Do you ever swear? I do. Sometimes all it takes is to say “shit” and move on. I dropped my yogurt on my lap today, said “shit” and got to the task of cleaning it up. Losing luggage is letting it go. Some harm is really big. Maybe you might just find a tiny piece you can let go of.
5.)Get better, be better Don’t make your time or the time of others be in vain. If you are going to be part of restorative justice, or a circle, put yourself into it to be better at the end. The focus in RJ is on values, who can’t be served by trying to be a bit more respectful. Someone in my world says Circle didn’t change his behavior. He had a chip that what he did wasn’t wrong. (even though clearly drinking underage is against the law). He swears RJ didn’t work. I try to make the point that it was better than just paying the fine, or going to an assessment. I doubt anything would have ‘worked’ for this person, who is so sure he did nothing wrong. He could have walked from the circle a better person, if only he had intended that from the get go.
6.)Don’t keep going back We have been doing Restorative Justice in our community long enough that I am seeing some faces again. I have been keeping a close eye on my underager consumption students, being in the impaired driving class, I am happy to say that is not what I see. I also look for my teen driving kids, in the underage classes, and I am happy to say that is not what I see. What I do see, is the kid who gets a ticket and before we can do RJ, gets another ticket. Or the kid that ignores me, then continues to ignore me. Now I’ll probably have to go to court to testify that he hasn’t done his agreement. At first I was tempted to try to make another plea to help him. I guess you can only do so much.
7.)Hold your boundaries Speak your peace, as a victim, parent or community member. Tell people that they harmed you. Let them know how you have been impacted. Those crucial conversations really make a difference. I’ve had to hold boundaries with people, pointing out that their behavior was harm, I do it more by getting them to understand it that way, with me. The most important lesson restoratively is that we need to teach young people how to have boundaries about NOT harming others. That’s the lesson to be taught in all process, so that harm doesn’t happen again.