• Dorothy Vaandering

At this time... (6) What’s the point?

"At This Time..." - A Blog Series (Part 6)


After completing the first 5 blog posts, I find myself asking, “What’s the point? What makes having a conversation with myself, important?” I wonder if anyone reading these posts finds it has been helpful? Do I continue? Do I stop? The examples I gave are so simplistic and seem to have little to do with re-imaging a new way of doing things and not returning to normal, with engaging and implementing restorative justice education.


Yet, my experience has been that talking to myself using the key questions allows me to critically reflect and eventually puts me at crossroads where I need to confront what I really believe— Are people inherently good or bad, intact or broken? Does my work ethic encourage me to think that if everyone works hard they’ll reap the benefits? Does my life style require that others are burdened or does my life style open up hope for others? Do I think that I can fix others who are struggling, manage their behaviours, shape their lives? Where does this world come from? What’s it all about? Is there a Creator that cares about what I do or don’t do? At these crossroads, I choose either to tighten or loosen my grasp on my power, I choose either to use power oppressively or share it creatively for the well-being of all.

Power.

I am a white, cisgender, happily married, economically secure, educated woman, with far more power than I am even aware of.

What’s the point? The society I live in has been made for me to thrive within. I can live my life the way I do, because others are/have been required to struggle, to fight for their lives. I cannot change, society will not change, until I admit that I am honouring groups of humanity differently, with some being more worthy and interconnected than others. At this time, if we want to reimagine a new way of being as we come out of the pandemic, we need to ‘restore togetherness systematically with each other and within ourselves’ (Miki Kashtan) Systemic transformation will not happen without personal transformation.

In our families, in our schools, in our gathering places of all kinds, the pivotal question in the framework questions that gets at our power choices is: “Who is being impacted and how?”

If we answer honestly, we will find places where we need to pick up our responsibilities. An Indigenous Elder’s insights in Kent Nerburn’s (2009) writing, is wisdom for this time when decisions are being made that will once again affect who is benefiting and who is bearing the burden:

“I’m not saying any of this is your fault or even that your grandparents did any of it. I’m saying it happened, and it happened on your people’s watch. You’re the one who benefited from it. It doesn’t matter that you’re way downstream from the actual events. You’re still drinking the water. I don’t care if you feel guilty. I just care that you take some responsibility. Responsibility’s about what you do now, not about feeling bad about what happened in the past. You can’t erase the footprints that have already been made. What you’ve got to do is take a close look at those footprints and make sure you’re more careful where you walk in the future.”


The Invitation: Being human places us in predicaments of power. Engaging with restorative justice education in our homes, schools, & communities requires that we ponder “who is being impacted and how?” What happens for you when you apply this to recent decisions you have made, either large or small?

Next blog: how to critically reflect on re-entry resources for education and their potential for sustainability and change.



98 views