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The Justice and Forgiveness Roundtable: Part 2 A New Challenge for a New Day

Painting by Emily Carr (Canadian Expressionist Painter, 1871-1945). She toured through aboriginal villages of Canada, and specialized in painting totems...trying to capture these before the art died out and the last ones were appropriated or destroyed.

Part 1: The initial challenge is still open. I just want to put the idea of part two out there for consideration. So feel free to continue sending your posts through Friday and I'll add the link to the list. Also feel free to continue adding comments, thoughts, etc. If you modify your original post, let me know and I'll put an UPDATED note next to your link.

Jen has reminded me that it is time for the next step. I've been chasing all of the posts and comments, trying to discern which paths are cleared, smooth and easy to travel versus which ones people are struggling to traverse.

There are several avenues we could lay for the next step...let me throw out some things I saw repeatedly, and you tell me what strikes you, interests you, etc.

I've also considered that we don't all need to follow the same road. We could each pick a path, travel it, and come back together to report what we find. Or, perhaps, the paths weave together and cross-over one another. They aren't actually mutually exclusive. Pieces of each might form a whole.

So let me know what you think of the following ideas---or add in your own idea---and let me know how you think this should go.

We can plan to do the next round next Wednesday. Or, as it happens, there are five ideas. I'm half thinking, hmm, what if I tackle one a day? (I'd probably implode, but hey, it's crossing my mind as an idea.)

IDEA 1: Rage against the machine

In comments, Mad Hatter stated, "These arguments [justice, forgiveness, and compassion] are usually framed in the notion of individual perpetrator vs individual victim. It gets so much more complex and muddy when the perpetrator is a faceless system. For most of the injustices in the world, the system is in fact the perpetrator."

Once I received a very angry email via my blog. The writer expressed fury at me...for the actions of my nation. I, too, am often angry about the decisions made or actions effected by the government or the system, but what responsibility lies with me, the individual? I know these are men's choices, but as Mad expresses, they still reflect an instituition that presents a different feel than dealing with a single person, one-on-one.

How do we consider justice and forgiveness, then, with instituitions and systems, which not only oversee the application of justice, but might also frequently be the perpetrators of injustice, either through action or inaction?

Reframe the context and discuss justice and forgiveness within something larger, a collective. The collective might be public sector, e.g. government, judicial system, military, or it might be private sector, e.g. mortgage companies, banks, cell phone companies. Then there is the wild card of health care.

Consider things such as: collective interacting with collective, system affecting individuals, individual affecting the system, etc.

IDEA 2: A Visio View


If we consider all of the concepts we've each discussed within the justice and forgiveness roundtable...consider that we've generally discussed them as a linear evolution. Reframe that context and consider them as non-linear, possibly as three-dimensional, cyclical, waves, etc.

For example, if all of the above concepts were a system within the human body, how would they work together? What could make them work better, or worse?

Or, if you created a web (flow chart) of these concepts, where would each piece fit, how would they fit together, and what information/direction would be on the lines running between?

Idea 3: Guiding principles

Jen and Bub and Pie brought up the concepts of mercy and compassion.

If we consider justice and forgiveness to be actions (more verb-y than noun-y), then what principles should guide those actions---are mercy and compassion at the heart of true justice and forgiveness?

Idea 4: A round the table post-mortem

1. Describe your entrance vehicle to this topic, e.g. personal anecdote, definition of concept, literary, current events, etc. (one sentence).

2. Pull the most representative and salient point about both concepts from your blog in the form of one sentence.

3. Pull the point from another rountabler's post that most resonated with you (in an agreement way). Write it in your own words, note the origin of it, and briefly explain why it struck you. Max 3 sentences.

4. Pull the point from another roundtabler's post that most resonated with you (in a disagreement sort of way). Write it in your own words, note the origin of it, and briefly explain your take on it. Max 3 sentences.

5. What concept do you believe logically follows this topic?

Idea 5: Break these chains...or reinforce them?

What we write and believe is governed by our own world view and experiences, In fact, you might say "limited" instead of governed. Gwen pointed out the distance she found bewteen her and her students, and atypical described the different approaches she and her husband have. Jen also mentioned discussing this with her husband, and I mentioned my Rwandan friend's perspective.

Find a way to challenge and carefully consider what you believe about forgiveness and justice---and all the concepts between and within---and see how that definition and belief might vary from another context, another view, another set of experiences. Find a different voice and take on this, and carefully consider all of the influences that shape your belief. How stable is your belief? Under a different set of circumstances, would it change? Consider socioeconomic, culture, past history, gender, personality, etc.

Idea 6 What Jen Said

I think we need to next talk about choice. You asked earlier which we would choose. But deeper, right, is how and why we choose.

And what choice really means. Do we all have the same ability to choose? Is it really a present tense concept?

How do we choose anything (forgiveness, justice, compassion)if we don't know why or how choice is really made?

Idea 7 What Gwen Said

Maybe for the next month/five weeks or so, you could make Wednesday SomethingJusticeMercySomething Day. Then we could tackle it slowly and other people could contribute or not as they find time, inclination, inspiration.

Looking forward to thoughts...

P.S. One more enormous effusive thanks to all participants, writers and commenters. This is really amazing. As Alice said, "So exhilirating to find so many powerful voices out there." Yes, so exhilirating, and still more so to have so many new ideas to ponder. Thanks! And...thanks for playing and not leaving me to look like a jackass. I swear, I was having, "Will anyone come to my birthday party?" sweats, LOL. Your RSVPs in advance and's the world, my friends.

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert


thailandchani said…
I'm sure it will be a very interesting discussion for all of you. I'll be checking in.

Catherine said…
I'm dissapointed that I didn't read about this earlier, because the topics of Justice and Forgiveness have always been very interesting to me. But alas, I don't have the time now to write a whole post so I will say only this (which I'm sure others have already said, and better): instead of one being more important than the other, do they not each inform the other, so that it is in the tension or balance between the two that we find life? Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" shows vividly the impact of justice without forgiveness, and the need to hold the tension between the two. (of course, there are many things NOT to like about this story, so I do not want to appear to endorse it wholesale.)

Thanks for the fascinating roundtable...I hope we get to do another one!
NotSoSage said…
Mad's comment was a reference to a conversation that we'd had over e-mail, that was not made public, which put my post into a very different context for her. I am slowly building up the courage to write a post about the issue she was alluding to, so perhaps I will do so and add it to the second phase of this incredible round table.

I've been loving it so far.
Mad said…
I did write the other day about the notion of systemic problems and what they mean for social change. It was in one of my answers to Andrea's questions. I know I didn't frame it in the context of justice or forgiveness but it is there, nonetheless.

My, but you are a ball of energy, Julie. So much work on all this. Thanks.
Unknown said…
More homework? Gee, Teach! ;)

I have been thinking about some things in response to the different points of view. I'm not sure that it is a start-writing-and-see-what-happens kind of post, so I'll have to meditate on it a bit. I don't know if it fits in with one of your suggestions.

I'll keep thinkin' on it.
Girlplustwo said…
Ok. I think I have it.

I think we need to next talk about choice. You asked earlier which we would choose. But deeper, right, is how and why we choose.

And what choice really means. Do we all have the same ability to choose? Is it really a present tense concept?

How do we choose anything (forgiveness, justice, compassion)if we don't know why or how choice is really made?
Damn! You got it going on here, Julie!

Lately, I've been wrapped up in my mundane cereal-to-sandwich-to-dinner routine. I'm going to have to hang out here and do some deep thinking to keep my mind exercised.

Right now, I'm going to go through the round one links and start reading.

For me, I'm still caught up in twirling my firebrand of anger over the latest events. I don't have much of a bent toward justice or forgiveness right now. I will say that in explaining all this to my 8yo, who was catching snippets from NPR, she asked me "will the shooter go to jail forever for killing all those kids?" When I told her that he had, in fact, killed himself in the end, my duaghter thought long and hard and said, "Well, they should put his body in jail. And God will have a punishment for him when he gets to heaven."

So, we have to work on compassion here. But at least we've got it covered that even people who do really bad things don't get damned for all eternity. Although, they might have a long sit on the naughty step.
Julie Pippert said…
Chani, look forward to it.


Catherine, you can join in at any time. And part 2 is coming up.

Good question! I'll throw it out there, but I also think a few of the participants addressed a few points along those lines. However, not quite at the angle you're coming from, I think. That'd make an interesting post!


Sage and Mad, sorry if I intruded. I didn't get the background of it, simply saw the point (on a couple of spots maybe?) and thought it was a great question. Sage, I understand that. I always go back and forth on some topics---include, or not? Mad, I saw your first answers, haven't hit the second set yet or had a chance to comment but I will pay extra attention now.


Mary-Lue, oh it's all optional. I make big plans like this and forget what all I have next week. ut also I don't want to hem people in, so if you have your own thoughts that's fine.


Jen, oooh good one. I'll add it in.


Jozet, glad to see you. Your posts were awesome. I have more to say but am called away now! Back in a bit.
Gwen said…
Julie, they all sound interesting. Maybe for the next month/five weeks or so, you could make Wednesday SomethingJusticeMercySomething Day. Then we could tackle it slowly and other people could contribute or not as they find time, inclination, inspiration.

I know for me, it's been a really great experience, but also an exhausting one. So exhausting, in fact, that I just want you (Teach, heh) to tell me what EXACTLY to do next.

I think what Mad touched on, the idea of systemic influence, was sort of where I was going the other day, with justice being top down, etc, although she stated it much better than I did.

And it's interesting that Catherine brought up The Merchant of Venice because I also have been thinking about that work as I read through all the work of other bloggers and as I think about my own philosophy.
kaliroz said…
Add me to those who need guidance, teach.

I love writing, I love this concept, but am bad about just plucking.

Tell me what the write about and I'll write. Promise.
NotSoSage said…
Oh, goodness, you totally didn't intrude. No, I was just trying to offer an explanation. And, as I write, I read that the hostage-taking at NASA has ended in more violence. This is so awful. It feels weird to say that I hope that friends and family of yours are safe, when someone else's clearly are not. But I do.

What is going on?

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