Resolving Conflict Through Restorative Justice


Creating a system that reflects the community is
in effect itself a community building process. When painful or violent conflict occurs, we actually create more security for our communities,
when we move towards each other rather than away from each other. Martin Luther King said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”
And we really need a justice system that is fair. Ideally, we’re looking not to replace one justice system with another, but to begin
questioning and dialoguing around justice, using as a basis what we already have. At the Gandhi institute, we don’t just want to give a historical
look-back to what people, like King or Gandhi, did. We’re wanting to move those ideas and principles forward in the world. And for us, restorative practices are an opportunity to really embody non-violence in
a systemic way, in a way that our community desperately needs. We started in communities in the mid 90’s in
Rio de Janeiro, where I live. And these were communities that were off limits to most of what
the state does. They were run by armed gangs. We started with conversations with the community around what it was that was
working, and what wasn’t working, and the way they responded to conflict. And slowly through experimenting, we started to notice the dynamics
and we would try to repeat the things that worked well and drop the things that weren’t
working. And that’s how the work developed. It’s not just enough to say that it’s at a
level of equality, there is additional steps necessary. A restorative circle is a gathering of those people
who are experiencing painful or violent conflict. They come together to do three things. First to
re-establish the ability to hear each other. The second thing is to find out the good
reasons why the horrible things happened. As in what were the underlying values that people
were attempting to take care of when they said those painful words, when they did those painful things. And thirdly, to decide what it is they want to do next. What I want to do is introduce restorative practices
within a wider context of restorative systems of communities that are self-regenerating, of organizations, including the University, which are beginning to think critically and creatively about how they
can create the conditions for a resilient community life. And in Rochester, we can already see that kind
of context happening in several different areas. There’s one project happening here in Rochester now where they’re being
used to help people who are coming out of prison, to transition back in with their families and in with their communities. So my particular hope, coming up, is to help advance the understanding among people who
work with youth in the community overall and how they might use this work. But I’d like to continue to think about how we can really
employ these tools and meaningful ways in the university community. So one of the key principles is dialogue. It’s simply about taking more care and listening more deeply;
listening not just to words, but to meaning. When we start to connect on that level of meaning, we
suddenly discover that actually, we have the same fundamental values. A production of the University of Rochester. Please visit us
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2 Responses

  1. Molly R. Leach says:

    This is a very important video to watch and it features the deeply powerful work of Restorative Circles and insights from Dominic Barter, a well respected space holder and way shower in this work worldwide. Thanks to the University of Rochester. More about RC at restorativecircles (dot) org

  2. sophie de Valence says:

    A explorer sans modération …

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