At its core, the restorative justice process is asking participants to take a great risk. For the responsible party (or offender), it is asking them to be fully accountable for their actions, to commit to hearing how other have been affected by those actions, and to working towards making things right. This responsibility-taking requires tremendous courage and vulnerability and is something many of us would rather avoid.
For the harmed party (or victim), the restorative justice process is asking them to open themselves to a person who has hurt them. To take a risk in being vulnerable and sharing the story of how they have been impacted, trusting that the other person will receive their story graciously and will do no further harm.
The restorative justice process often results in incredibly healing and transformative outcomes for all involved and in a more positive view of humanity and a whole. But to get there, each person must first take the incredible risk of vulnerability.
As you look ahead at the rest of 2019, take some time to consider the areas of pain in your own life and relationships. Are there people who you have been hurt by who you could take the risk to open up to, sharing honestly and kindly how you’ve been affected and your hopes to make things right moving forward? Or are there people in your life who you have hurt? Could you gather the courage to take responsibility for those actions, to open to hearing their side, and to work to repair the harm that has been caused?
Conflict is difficult and scary, and often the first response we have is to put up walls. However, as restorative justice shows us, it is taking the risk to be vulnerable with each other that paves the way for reconciliation and healing.