Saturday, 28 March 2015
SAWBONNA and the TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF WORDS.
Yesterday, I received an email from a woman who has been following my journey with Sawbonna, often sharing with me her views about Sawbonna/Restorative Justice. She was particularly concerned about the Dalhousie crisis asking me why I supported the school's call for Restorative Justice. After reading that yesterday was the anniversary of the day my Father, Theodore Van Sluytman, and Glen Flett shared encounter with two bullets, and that Glen and his wife Sherry and I have become dear friends, she emailed me to say that she found this distressing. She told me that her response, had she had the experience of a loved one being killed, would be to simply let it go. Let it flow down the river. I was deeply moved by her words, which pointed to what both victims/survivors and offenders find distressing. Their distress coming from the fact that our society, our communities are hesitant (an understatement) to step into the river, with and for each other. I emailed her back telling her that we are the river we are the flow. And I wished her increased joy and decreased pain. She emailed me and thanked me for my kindness. This last email from her, thanking me for my kindness, spoke to me in a potent and poignant way. And how did it do so? It did so for it was in keeping with Sawbonna's meaning contextualized in the precious crucible of, respect, responsibility, relationship, and wonder, she and I saw each other. Yes! With our words, choosing to connect, to express, to explain, to Sawbonna, we engaged NOT in us vs. them, but in us with us. She did not ask or demand of me to do or to be else, nor did I demand these things of her. This was an expression of the transformative power of words; writing and sharing them, speaking them. These choices mean that even as we do not agree with every idea or thought, we can still hear, we can still listen, we can still see, we can still be seen. And in so doing, we come to embrace our voice and that of others. And we come to fine-tune our own necessary relationships with how and what justice as a lived and living expression speaks to and from.