Are we often the first ones to apologize to the person who was hurt? “Forgiveness means letting go of anger and the desire for revenge and moving toward an increasingly positive view of and acceptance of the party that harmed oneself or the people one cares about” (Coleman) When the offender directly addresses the victim, the latter may also, for fear of rejecting all the offers of the offender. This is where a neutral mediator is needed, which organizes the process, where the victim can free himself from negative feelings, and the accused needs to formulate a proposal to correct the harm. The mediator does not take the side of the accused or the victim and promotes the possibility of an agreement between the parties, which helps to establish trust and creates a favorable atmosphere for reconciliation. The experience of the first conciliation programs showed the crucial importance of such work. The expression of feelings, an informal dialogue, and the receipt of answers to one’s own questions contributed significantly to the change in the attitudes of the participants towards each other, towards themselves and the situation.
The most important stage was the development of restorative justice chain set out most of all, in the works of Howard Zehr. Basic to us became the concept of “needs of victims of crime”, opposed to criminal justice and legal thinking; the concept of “offender liability”; goals of restorative justice programs. Painful experiences: fear, grief, defenselessness, distrust of people, self-accusation – can disturb a victim for many years. For some victims of crime, the opportunity to share a personal story and get answers to questions directly from offenders is very important. Victims most often do not know about the fate of their abuser, since they do not always attend court hearings because of their reluctance to experience additional experiences. Places of imprisonment significantly affect the exclusion of offenders from a law-abiding society. The toughening of punishments, uniting an increasing number of offenders in colonies and prisons, contributes to the reproduction of the criminal subculture. The more the population goes through places of deprivation of liberty, the more it contributes to the spread of tolerance for criminal behavior, increased hostility towards law enforcement officials and courts, consolidation of the population’s orientation towards criminal authorities as patterns of behavior, as well as violent conflict resolution and aggressiveness in relationships as a norm of behavior.
The restorative approach interprets the concept of responsibility differently than official justice. The responsibility of the offender in restorative justice includes awareness of the consequences of harm, defining a strategy for future life that would exclude criminal methods of solution, and commitment to redress harm to the victim. “Understanding the conditions that lead to violence and the impact of violence can provide a useful framework for people to work on both prevention and reconciliation. It can lead them to resist these influences, to respond to them in ways that makes violence less likely” (Coleman) The use of a restorative approach is necessary when interpersonal relations are saturated with hatred and revenge, which interrupts the possibility of a normal human life. The reconstructive resolution of conflicts and criminal situations helps people to fix the evil caused by conflicts and crimes themselves. A restorative approach to resolving conflicts and criminal situations with the help of mediators helps to realize important values for society: healing of victims of crime, smoothing out harm by the forces of offenders, and participation in this process of the immediate social environment.
Acts of violence are like germs that carry infection directly into the brain. Especially vulnerable are children and adolescents whose psyche is extremely plastic. If you regularly undergo or witness acts of violence, then this inevitably affects the neurological function of the body. After this, the transformation of personality is manifested in a specific perception of the world through a filter in which violence is considered normal behavior, and the threat of violence is seen everywhere. People in this state tend to resort to violence. Some American scientists including Gary Slutkin seriously believe that violence can spread in human society in much the same way as infectious diseases. ‘Infection’ spreads through phenomena such as fights, murders, suicides, and rapes” (Schwartz) Each of interrupters came to Cease Fire, having connections and authority in the criminal world, knowledge of street laws and the ability to recognize situations fraught with escalation of violence. Even speaking the same language, the activists had the task of advising those who did not even ask for it. They should be able to knock on the doors of the hearts of people seeking revenge, be able to listen and know when to let the interlocutor “let off steam”, when and how to start talking. They needed courage to intervene in dangerous situations and confront violent criminals. It needed loyalty to the idea, and commitment to stop the violence. To start these processes, the mediators like Ameena Matthews and Ricardo “Cobe” Williams carry out work on “humanizing” of relationships.
A conflict or a criminal situation often leads to the fact that people begin to see exclusively negative sides in each other, and a sense of fear, hatred or anger increases. A mediator helps people to express the completeness of the situation in which they fallen due to conflict or criminal actions and convey it to each other. Such mutual understanding allows us them to clarify previously hidden aspects of human existence, which allows them to overcome the depersonalization and demonization of another and, thereby, find the strength to discuss a joint solution to this problem. Awareness of one’s feelings, states and foundations of action, awareness of the situational consequences for themselves and other people, awareness of the priorities and problems in relationships, acceptance of responsibility for changing the situation, joint search for a solution and its implementation, restorative actions that allow correcting the consequences of the situation and changing the attitudes towards each other are the most important steps on the path of rebirth.
We are responsible for the occurrence of this conflict, even though another made a fuss. Recognizing our mistakes and unselfish motives, we begin to realize how our behavior affects other people. Avoiding destructive behavior ourselves, in the future we will not encourage others to hurt us. We protect ourselves from mistakes. Protecting ourselves we protect others. It is not necessary at the same time to remember those actions that could have been committed in past and which led us to real problems. But we must seriously and finally decide for ourselves not to take such actions in the future. If you think about everything constructively, then you can learn from mistakes, instead of becoming a victim of your own false ideas.