The national empathy divide
from Robert Koehler's entry on Huffington Post:
The movement known as restorative, or transformative, justice, which is slowly taking root and making a difference across the country and around the world, challenges the notion that our basic response to crime should be punishment rather than healing. And healing means restoring a broken system to wholeness, which addresses and honors the complexity of who we are and how we are connected. It includes all of us. The aggrieved and victimized only become empowered when they are able to connect with the ones who have caused them harm.
Furthermore, any criminal act, especially an act of violence, produces consequences, and damages relationships, that radiate in all directions. Only if all who are affected sit down in relationship to one another, a process that is by no means easy or simple, and may well take an enormously long time, can healing occur. Such healing, which means the strengthening of social ties, is the true meaning of peace.
Rupert Ross, in his seminal book on restorative justice, Returning to the Teachings, calls this process "sacred justice."
"The peacemaker is thus an investigator, a teacher and a guide," writes Ross. His or her primary responsibility "is to help each person come to understand that life is relationship, and that a healthy life requires constant effort to provide as much nourishment as possible to every relationship that engages you."
The New York Times story does point out that Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, has said publicly that he is open to the idea of meeting with Jared Loughner's parents, recognizing that they're "hurting in this situation as much as anybody."
This reopens the circle and invites some of the ostracized back in. What troubles me is that the state affects no interest in this process. Healing can happen or not, but officially we care only about the bureaucratic pursuit of punishment and the perpetuation of the cycle of violence.
Read the whole entry.