One hopeful voice that has been bringing attention to the question for the world is Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban on her way to school. She advocates for justice through the power of her pen and the strength of her voice, and she does not depend on a jury verdict to advocate for peace.
She understands that her justice, along with many of her peers, may never be tried in a court of law, but yet this young girl still has dreams for her life, and the people of her country.
And recently on her 16th birthday she made a speech to the U.N. where she proudly voiced, “Nothing changed in my life (after being shot) except this — weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
Can we honor Trayvon Martin’s life in a similar way and empower people to seek broader justice in our country even after the verdict that many were not prepared for?
Maybe hope for our country begins with re-shaping our traditional notion of what is justice. But we need more than hope, we need people to feel empowered. The real work begins outside the courtroom and in our communities, not just relying on verdicts from a jury to give us a sense of peace for crimes committed.
Maybe it’s time to explore a new model of justice. Restorative justice focuses on empowerment and restoring a sense of justice to victims, survivors and perpetrators, repairing the harm of a crime and emphasizing empathy when restoring justice back into people’s lives.
Malala Yousafzai understands that justice takes a life-long commitment. At the age of 11 she began using her voice through a blog. Now, at 16, she is using her voice to provide a sense of hope for people of her country while also inspiring other survivors of violence around the world to speak up and believe in their peaceful power as a sense of justice.
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