Our Justice System

Restorative Circles

Thu, June 26, 2014 (5 years ago)

For me, all the talk about the feedback relating to the proposed WC/AVC members is connected to a much larger issue – our Justice System.

For me, all the talk about the feedback relating to the proposed WC/AVC members is connected to a much larger issue - our Justice System.

What does justice mean? What kind of a justice system do we want to have in Auroville?

I think that unless we look at these questions as a community, we will have no system at all or unconsciously inherit the default justice system – which means that some people have the power to decide what’s right and wrong and these powerful people try to control other people who do “bad” things – control in the form of laws (to deter people from doing bad things), or control in the form of punishment (continue the cycle of violence – do violence to the one who did violence, hoping that he/she will change his/her ways!). This may have worked in the time of kings or the likes, when a few elite had a lot of perceived power and the general population needed to play the game in order to protect their chances of staying alive.

Today, I think we can prove over and over that this form of justice, although it’s the norm in most of the world, is not actually fully serving. Why do we still have crime then? How is it that the news is filled with stories about people who manage to commit crime, despite our laws and control systems? Like someone who can board a plane with a fake passport and/or with explosives, despite our very developed security systems…?! As long as we use power, control, fear, threats, punishment, we will continue to attract those who can outsmart and defy the system – because these systems are in themselves not infallible nor almighty.

For me, the only way forward is to develop a conscious justice system, one that is holistic and able to hold the full picture – the past, present and future (I mean, hold this intention – obviously we cannot predict the future), the complexities behind the act, the reasons for acting out, the impact the act has on others in the community, the consequences on all sides, taking responsibility – all of us, as we normally all have a role to play in the act (and the healing and reconciliation that comes from that), and a search for how to restore trust and willingness to co-exist… And if we don’t do this last part, we are just hurting ourselves in the end…

If we can only devise a system that keeps the bad people out (even that’s not do-able, because I might think you’re the bad person, but you will probably think I’m the bad person!), we give those bad people only 2 choices – to submit or to rebel. And if they rebel, their act is likely to be even more harmful than the first time around. Because we have not heard them the first time, they will likely want to shout louder the next time. And who gets hurts? In the end, we all do…

The funny thing is that actually as human beings, I believe we are designed to collaborate and contribute to each other’s well-being (therefore our social, interdependent nature). The only catch is that this formula is dependent on trust and connection – when we trust each other and feel connected, we’re willing to go to extremes to help each other and when we don’t, we’re willing to exclude, spit on, and kill.

So how do we work on (re-)building trust amongst us…? I don’t think this comes from putting expectations that we all be perfect (because that’s not do-able and we all have different versions of what’s acceptable/non-acceptable behaviour), but instead from growing in our ability to hear and understand each other, to develop some curiosity for how another views life, curiosity to understand what values might have been a stake and how a certain act may have actually been a desperate attempt to protect that value (even if, in hindsight, that act was a poor choice). As unbelievable as it may sound, I’m quite convinced that this is where our unity lies – in our shared common values – we all want to belong, to feel safe, to have meaning, to contribute, to be seen… And when we can see these reflections of our own selves in each other, I believe we soften and move closer together… When we’re closer, there’s less need to shout (verbally or with violence), even when if we disagree…

From this space, we might find ways to move forward that take a more holistic picture into account – where the one whose act is in question can agree to do certain things to rebuild the community’s trust in him/her, where those impacted can take a more active and responsible role in creating a new level of safety, and where as a community we can focus on how to move towards reconciliation, re-integration and willingness to co-exist…


Some Inspiration…

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"For each problem there is a solution that can give satisfaction to everybody; but for finding this ideal solution each one must want it instead of meeting the others with the will to enforce one’s own preference. Enlarge your consciousness and aspire for the satisfaction of all."
~ The Mother