We are all of us at some level going through transformation in our lives every day. It may be learning to be a parent, coping with a loss, coping with an illness, working towards a promotion, or simply trying to identify with a new community.
I moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2013. The move for my family and I to Canada was pretty huge. It has been a wonderful experience, and along the way a bit of a culture shock. Everything is familiar...and yet just a little bit different. I'm sure from the many people I talk to, that others who have moved from one community to another experience those same feelings. Trying to make new friends, seeking approval perhaps, finding work, helping our children fit in and make friends.
It makes me wonder if that's how some of our offenders must feel?
I'm not talking about Ted Bundy here, just your regular high school kid perhaps, who does something stupid, just a bad decision, a wrong choice and it all goes terribly wrong? They know it, they acknowledge it, they may embrace it even. Yet, when they are walking around town, or work, or school, I'd wager they are pretty pre-occupied with wondering who knows? What are other people thinking or saying about them? About me?
In school, this feeling must be even more intense. Their young age, and immaturity will doubtless amplify feelings of isolation, and perhaps loneliness. Is it any wonder then, that if they are not given a chance to make amends, and quickly, allowing them to fit back in, that those feeling might make them start to feel alienated? No longer accepted? I wonder if thats how their perception of it might be.
This is the beauty of Restorative Justice. The people that are involved in it can experience a transformation. Victims, Offenders and community representatives. Even the facilitators. For the offender it is an acceptance of wrong doing, allowing them a new start. An understanding that they are accepted, that they are not been judged, that the process is confidential, it removes some of the anxiety and worry.
It is all too easy in a modern society, and I speak from considerable experience, to want someone to be held accountable for their actions. For many of us, accountability is in the form of punishment. But does punishment in the traditional sense bring about the transformation we would like to see? Does it bring about what we really need? Is it the best thing for the individuals involved? Is it the best thing for the community?
Perhaps its time we all looked at the word 'Transformation' and think about how it can be applied to make things better for everybody.
Our program is going through a transformation right now, and it is invigorating to be a part of it. There is great excitement, and indeed a measure of trepidation as we move forward, trying to understand how we approach and achieve our goals. How do we become more engaged, more effective, and more successful at bringing about transformations.
This blog, our recent presence on social media, and a revamp of this web site are all steps forward towards a more diverse and dynamic approach for the Restorative Justice Program of the Sunshine Coast. It is a transformation that I am proud to be a part of, and it is a transformation that the local community can, and should be a part of.
As a populace we are geographically perfect for RJ to be intensely, and incredibly successful. A model for other communities not just in BC, but across Canada, North America and beyond.