"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Restorative Justice - The Woolf Within

Am just back from a splendid weekend conference organised by the Scientific and Medical Network on the Science of Empathy, the Spirit of Compassion. I’ve written a piece on my other blog Wisdom of Tolerance already, about the Charter for Compassion that was introduced there by Karen Armstrong, its founder.
We covered so much ground, so much of which is relevant for healing this world. I am preparing a detailed report of the conference for the digital magazine Conscious Connections – for 21st century Cultural Creatives worldwide and will probably come back to this again.

During the weekend a film was shown, The Woolf Within , introduced by Janine Edge, an independent mediator. It made a huge impression on many of us.

I quote: “Peter Woolf was a prolific offender, ensconced in a world of violence and depravity, who, by his own reckoning committed about 20,000 crimes. Then he burgled a house, fought with his victim and ended up in prison yet again. This time though it was different. Peter met with his victim, Will, in a restorative justice session that took place in the prison. The meeting changed both their lives for ever…….”

Do please watch it. Perhaps you now have! What is striking is the compassion that victim and criminal were able to show for each other by the end of the process, despite the obvious difference in their social circumstances. This has to be restorative justice at its best, a lesson for us all in how good can come out of bad in our world.
We are all unique human beings, and all equal, regardless of background, education, color, creed, social circumstances etc. All of us suffer, all of us have the need for compassion from the day we are born to the day we die. Deprive children and youngsters of compassion in their upbringing and they will feel they are unloved, valueless, and marginalized. Through evolution the brain has become highly sensitive to kindness received, Neuroscience tells us that specific brain areas respond to kindness and compassion, Ancient Wisdom tells us that compassion is the road to happiness, and Social and developmental psychology tell us that we are affected by our own history of affiliation – i.e. the relationships we experience in our upbringing. So help people love themselves, then help them to understand the suffering of others, and we can change people and society in profound ways.

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