At breakfast on the final day of the conference there was conversation about what being "safe" in the context of restorative justice settings means. The essence of Sawbonna permeated. What I learned is that not everyone feels "safe" in those settings; and, that not everyone feels "unsafe" in those settings. Crucial is what experiences we each bring to the content and contexts from our personal and political selves when we enter the space for conversations.
Conversation about anger, rage, anguish, terror, frustration, being silenced, being judged, silencing, judging, as well as conversation about hope, possibility, truth-telling, resilience, reconciliation, arose. None of these conversations, we shared, happen in a void - when we sit alone, we are in relationship and conversations occur in our minds and hearts.
At breakfast, in the terrain of companionship, the word and definition of companionship derived from the root, com: with and pan: bread, we broke bread in the literal and figurative act of seeing and being seen, of listening and being listened to. I learned what it is I mean when I use the word safe and I learned what others mean when they use the word safe.
I had always thought that I knew the definition of safe. What I knew was a definition based on my experiences and learning.
To be part of a context of community that wishes to dialogue from and because of the values of: respect, responsibility, and relationship, within the crucible of Sawbonna's: I see you, offers hope. At times the tones of voices in those conversations are raw-angry, at times the tones of voices are brutal, at times fingers point. Bodies are taut. But hope, because of solidarity to our shared-humanity, permits the conversations to occur. Permits the emotions. In fact, invites them.
Hope created the seemingly impossible fact of healing and friendship with Glen Flett, who took my Father, Theodore's, life. Hope nourished Justice Murray Sinclair, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela, whose voices in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions is Canada and South Africa, continue to mentor us. We are safe because we yearn to connect. Because we care. Sawbonna speaks hope.