What Does Restorative Practice Have to Offer in this Moment?
As I begin Election Day 2020, a day that’s sure to be filled with frantic prognostication and analysis in the media, I am asking myself, what does restorative practice have to offer in this moment?
In the United States we have never had or encouraged full participation in our democratic processes. While we’ve already seen unprecedented voter turnout in the 2020 election—and the consequences of this election will be significant and far-reaching—it’s important to remember that participation in democracy is not a once-every-four-years activity.
We feel excited and inspired by presidential elections owing, in part, to a false promise of sweeping change. We live in a dominance-based culture that tells us that when a new administration enters the White House, the State House or City Hall they will be able to turn things around by changing the rules and banishing the “bad people” and replacing them with “good people.”
But restorative justice rejects this reductive dichotomy. A restorative framework recognizes that all of us have experienced harm and when that hurt goes unaddressed and unhealed, we are capable of causing great harm to others.
In recognizing this truth we don’t excuse harmful acts or explain them away, rather we look to the source because that’s where the healing begins. Of course United States government actors have caused real and serious harm throughout history, and certainly over the past four years. But history shows us that the foundational hierarchies and wounds of this nation will continue to resurface and manifest in new acts of violence until they are reckoned with.
Change—both personal and societal—is a slow process, and if you were to chart it on a graph you’d see a series of hills and valleys, rather than a steady uphill climb. There is no shortcut to a better future, despite the urgency of the need for change. We all have accountability and healing work to do and that work is ongoing.
So with that said, please stay safe, stay connected and VOTE! And if you find yourself craving restorative community this evening, please join our Breathing Space Community Circle at 6:00PM ET.