The Spirit of Restorative Justice

Sujatha Baliga found herself sitting in a room with a murderer and his victim’s parents, who had come seeking something more than punishment for their child’s killer. Sujatha, and the process of Restorative Justice, was uniquely positioned to help. In this interview, Sujatha teaches us about the practice of Restorative Justice and her personal experience.

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Brian Kuehn

Brian is continually fascinated with the struggles and hard work of the generations who came before him. His ancestors immigrated from Germany in the late 1800s. He reflects on the fact that his grandmother lived in a sod house on the North Dakota prairie. Reflecting on her hard, yet beautiful, life served as part of Brian’s inspiration for the “Farmers Series.” Among the images in the series are many people picking crops and working the farm. These images are often a result of a combination of his personal experience growing up in rural America and inspiration from old photographs he found while searching archives. Whether painting landscapes or flowers or people, ultimately, Brian’s work is about telling stories.

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From Silence to Speaking

I discovered silence for the first time on our frozen pond in Upstate New York in the winter, when my breath turned into clouds. Twigs snapped in the woods, but under that was a quiet that laced through the spaces between trees. It was a gentle quiet that held everything. I didn’t fully register it then, so focused on the scritch-scritch of my skates as I ankle-skated across the ice. 

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How We Get Free

There is a profound spiritual crisis at play in our society. It is a crisis of disconnection. As two women who have been young single mothers, our stories and experiences inform our understanding of and commitment to the work of bringing spiritual resources to bear on the current, ubiquitous crisis of disconnection in our world. Our lives have taught us the power of connecting with and across difference and not in spite of it.

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Will You Buy Me Flowers? A Moment of Shared Humanity

Connection has the remarkable capacity to transform our perception of ourselves, of others, and of the greater web of humanity in which we all share a part. In the truest sense of the word, connection shows up in many different shapes, sizes, and forms. Yet when we conceive of connection in our culture, we tend to focus the discourse around deeply woven, long-term relationships grounded in history and loyalty. In my experience, however, it is often the many moments of connection that have been just that—moments, fleeting in nature—that truly illuminate and, therefore, hold the capacity to transform our perception. 

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Moving Beyond Fear Together

Concern and anger overcame us when we heard that a mother and daughter had been punched in the face in the subway in Queens, New York. Seeing the Orthodox Jewish woman’s head covering, the assailant mistook the pair as Muslim, assaulted them and yelled “get out of my country.” The New York Daily News reports that hate crimes are up by 33% in New York and Muslims have seen a 48% increase in hate incidents since 2016. Nation-wide, the Anti Defamation League reports that “anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to same period last year.” With the rise in hateful sentiments toward both Muslim and Jewish communities and the lack of differentiation between both communities, it is clear that Muslims and Jews are seen as “the other, together.” Indeed, we know women of both faiths have chosen to no longer wear their head coverings in public. Some families choose not to display their religious attire in public spaces. 

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The Dining Room

It is quiet in the dining room of the nursing home at 5:15. No one speaks. The residents eat carefully and intentionally. This is the dining room for those who are able to feed themselves, and that is what they do. Each one looks straight-ahead, lifting fork, spoon, and cup from the table to their mouth. They are focused on eating, chewing and swallowing. They are focused on drinking, sipping and swallowing. There is no chatter, no conversation, no dawdling. Time is limited and nourishment is necessary. They eat with purpose, not with joy or pleasure, not with humor or social engagement. There is no mistaking this for a middle school cafeteria. There will not be a food fight. 

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My Personal Session with Thomas Moore

Age in these times—perhaps in every time—becomes, for Moore, the opportunity to counter empty busyness, acquisition, and the domineering ego (the cornerstones of materialist philosophy), and instead embrace a deeper spirituality. If we accept this challenge, and its attending renunciations, age can serve as the threshold into one of the great transformational archetypes, that of elder and sage.

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Bodies of Water

Human beings, we know, require water. It lubricates joints, cushions the brain and spinal cord, delivers oxygen, helps feed cells, regulates body temperature, and moves digestion forward. There is nothing like it. 

Water leaves our bodies through urine, sweat, and breath. It mostly enters through the mouth.

The part of the brain that senses thirst is the hypothalamus. This is also the part that maintains homeostasis, or that beautiful, delicate balance that counters external with internal. It responds to temperature and sleep, hunger, and moods. It constantly checks the body’s here with the world out there.

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The Art and Discipline of Seeing Compassionately

As I am making an imaginative leap into someone else’s situation, I notice my tendency to make judgments pauses almost automatically. Curiosity and wonder are fundamentally non-judgmental approaches to the world. I find that I simply cannot hold a judgment in my mind and be truly curious about another person at the same time.

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Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton’s work focuses on the aesthetics, philosophies, and key symbols inherent throughout Africa and the African Diaspora. He strives to create a dialogue between contemporary Black cultures and the ancient African world. He seeks to describe a complex and varied Black aesthetic through a visual comparison of that which is shared amongst Black peoples around the world. These cultural analyses—the aesthetic, philosophical, and symbolic connections—form his visual language. His pieces depict African thought and culture as equal to, yet unique from, its western analogue. His work stands in stark contrast to the pervasive negative associations, which have become synonymous with Black culture.

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Basil Kincaid

Basil Kincaid’s quest is to understand the wild tapestry of his own personal identity and cultural identity within the African Diaspora, contextualized by the scaffolding of his American experience. He practices self exploration, historical investigation, and critical social questioning to cultivate healing on a personal and cultural level, towards the remedy of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.

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