The principles of restorative justice are more than just a set of guidelines for criminal justice. They are a way of life that can be applied in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. When we internalize and live out the principles of restorative justice, we can create a more just and equitable world in which harm is repaired and relationships are restored. In this article, we will explore what it means to live out the principles of restorative justice in our daily lives and how it can benefit both ourselves and our communities.
“Walking the talk” of Restorative Justice
Samantha was a highly respected Restorative Justice practitioner known for her passion for the principles of RJ and her ability to bring about meaningful change in the lives of those she worked with. But, one day, she found herself struggling to live up to her own standards.
It was a heated discussion at a work meeting, and in the moment, Samantha allowed her frustration to get the best of her. She made several personal and insensitive remarks to a colleague, leaving them feeling disrespected and dismissed. The aftermath of her actions hit her like a ton of bricks, but instead of taking responsibility for her mistake, she felt ashamed and chose to avoid the situation.
Days passed and the colleague confronted Samantha about her behavior. They reminded her of the RJ principles she so passionately upheld and called her out on her hypocrisy. It was a wake-up call for Samantha, who realized that she had fallen short in her own principles and had failed to make amends for her actions.
But, Samantha wasn’t one to dwell on her mistakes. She took immediate action to make amends. She reached out to her colleague, apologized for her behavior, and took steps to better understand their perspective. This experience allowed Samantha to not only repair her relationship with her colleague but also to live out the principles of RJ in both her professional and personal life. A true testament to the power of restorative justice, even when faced with challenges and obstacles.
Living the principles
The first principle of restorative justice is respect for all parties involved. This means valuing and acknowledging the perspectives and needs of others, regardless of their background or situation. In our personal lives, this can be practiced by actively listening to those around us, taking time to understand their point of view, and treating them with dignity and respect. When we apply this principle to our professional lives, it means creating inclusive and respectful environments in which all individuals feel heard and valued.
The second principle of restorative justice is participation and empowerment. This means involving all parties in finding a solution that will repair harm and restore relationships. In our personal lives, this can be achieved by actively engaging with others, seeking their input and involvement in problem-solving, and encouraging personal responsibility and accountability. In our professional lives, this can be practiced by creating opportunities for individuals to participate in decision-making and taking a collaborative approach to finding solutions.
The third principle of restorative justice is the belief in the transformative power of relationships. This means recognizing the potential for relationships to change and grow, even in the aftermath of harm. In our personal lives, this can be achieved by seeking out opportunities for reconciliation and forgiveness, and working to rebuild relationships that have been damaged. In our professional lives, this means fostering positive relationships and creating environments in which individuals can heal and grow.
Taking restorative justice home
Carla was a seasoned Restorative Justice practitioner who had dedicated her life to helping others resolve conflicts and repair relationships. She was known for her empathy and her ability to bring people together in a way that fostered healing and growth. But, one day, she found herself struggling to apply the principles she taught to her own life.
It was a family gathering, and tensions were high. A long-standing disagreement between Carla’s sister and her parents had reached a boiling point, and before she knew it, Carla was caught in the middle. In the heat of the moment, she lost her temper and began to defend her sister, even though it meant turning on her parents.
The aftermath of the argument left Carla feeling uneasy. She knew that she had acted impulsively and had allowed her emotions to get the best of her. She was embarrassed by her behavior and was struggling with how to make things right. Instead of turning to the principles of RJ, she avoided the situation, hoping it would resolve itself.
Days passed and Carla’s family was still grappling with the conflict. It wasn’t until her aunt, another RJ practitioner, confronted her about her actions that Carla realized the error of her ways. Her aunt reminded her of the principles of RJ and encouraged her to take the lead in resolving the conflict.
Carla took her aunt’s advice to heart and began to apply the principles of RJ to her own family conflict. She reached out to her sister, her parents, and the rest of her family, and began to facilitate a restorative justice circle. Through this process, she was able to help her family understand each other’s perspectives, repair relationships, and find a way to move forward together. The experience allowed Carla to live out the principles of RJ in a new and meaningful way, and to better understand the importance of these principles in her own life.
Making RJ Professional and Personal
Internalizing the principles of restorative justice also means recognizing and addressing harm in our personal and professional lives. This means taking responsibility for our actions and working to repair harm that we have caused, as well as being open to receiving feedback and making amends when harm has been inflicted on others. By doing so, we can create a culture of accountability and responsibility, in which individuals are empowered to make positive changes in their lives and in the world around them.
Finally, living out the principles of restorative justice means creating a sense of community and belonging. This means building supportive networks and relationships, fostering collaboration, and promoting a sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of our communities. In our personal lives, this can be achieved by volunteering, participating in community events, and reaching out to others in need. In our professional lives, this means creating inclusive environments, promoting diversity and inclusion, and working to build a stronger and more connected community.
In conclusion, the principles of restorative justice offer a framework for creating a more just and equitable world, both in our personal and professional lives. By internalizing these principles and living them out, we can work towards repairing harm, restoring relationships, and building a better future for all. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner of restorative justice or a newcomer, there are countless opportunities to make a positive impact in your community and in the world by living out the principles of restorative justice.