It's been 4 years since our beloved Doug was brutally stabbed to death while offering assistance to an injured woman. I've spent countless hours writing about how Doug's murder has affected me; my emotions, my thoughts, my coping methods and my anger at our inept legal and justice systems.
An excerpt that may interest you are my thoughts on forgiveness. I have heard that forgiving Doug's murderer means excusing his behavior; that our society needs to live by the old adage "an eye for an eye;" that I should be angry and want revenge.....
I've always believed in forgiving others, believing it's more for yourself than them, and yet, here I am put to the ultimate test of being a forgiving person. I am at a loss. What does forgiving Doug's murderer mean? What does forgiving him feel like inside of me? Maybe I'm kidding myself and I’m not really a forgiving person. I do some reading, searching for something that makes sense.
“The act of forgiving someone is, in essence, your refusal to let anger and hatred prevent you from moving forward. You are taking a stand against allowing the actions of others to alter the course of your life or who you are.”
His actions have certainly altered my life but not the course of it. I am trying really hard to live a normal life, to enjoy family and friends, to find joy in daily activities, to make decisions without always considering that Doug is no longer here. I make conscious efforts to keep anger, hatred and revenge at bay. I do not want ugly feelings to live inside me; to control my actions; to consume my wellbeing.
It feels right; a murderer is not in charge of who I am, not in charge of my future, I am.
I have been a classroom conversation facilitator with Restorative Justice for a couple of years now. I feel that reaching out to children; having interesting discussions about bullying, self esteem, empathy, the importance of community, and more, is a very, valuable program. If it makes a difference in one child's thoughts and behaviors, it is a success in my mind!
When I think about Restorative Justice, I wonder if early intervention may have had a positive impact on Doug's murderer; I wonder if it might have changed the course of history.
From the Restorative Response Program
I felt I was at the absolute lowest part of my life when I reached out to you guys and now, just after one week I have hope, I feel like my bubbly level headed self, I don't have that ugly heavy feeling anymore. I felt as if I was walking around with an axe over my head waiting to drop. For people to have so much trust in me again and to make me feel valid, I cannot thank everyone enough for this. Chilliwack RJ program has been life changing and definitely healing.
The seven days after my arrest, I would consider probably the worst week of my life. I was just about to start my third year of schooling and suddenly my whole future had this massive record i didn’t think id have any way of overcoming. I was terrified and lost and honestly had no idea where to even turn to. Restorative justice found and contacted me, and this group of volunteers decided to dedicate their time in giving me a second chance. Not only did I get the opportunity to make up with those I directly affected. Restorative justice also allowed me to give back to the community in a way that directly related to my schooling and hopeful future. Honestly my life is arguably so much better after this entire experience not only career wise but in teaching me how to approach every situation with everyone one else's interests in mind. If you get this opportunity, you'd be crazy not to follow through!
I had the unique opportunity to work with Restorative Justice when a young boy threatened the safety of the people in my business through a prank call. The people at Restorative Justice provided me with a way to resolve the conflict and bring about some closure with it. They supported me and the boy and his family through the whole process. We participated in a meeting arbitrated by Restorative Justice. The volunteers there were so kind and caring for all parties involved. Their facilitation of the events and the final result had both parties happily settled. I am very thankful for Restorative Justice as if they were not there to facilitate this process I would not have felt closure on an incident that was disturbing to my business and staff. I also saw how it benefited the boy who was in the wrong be able to learn from him mistake and grow from it which is truly the best case scenario. All of this was possible because of Restorative Justice and its amazing volunteers. Thank you.
I have always enjoyed the art of graffiti .I found it very interesting and it intrigued me. I started to follow Graffiti artists on the internet, buying books on it and practicing drawing for hours in my bedroom. It led me to get involved with others that also found this as amazing as I did.Sadly instead of keeping it on paper and as an art I was involved in defacing a building …..which I deeply regret. I paid the price to correct my ways and thanks to Restorative Justice who gave me a chance to not have a criminal record. I had a mentor that trusted me and believed in me. We would meet up for coffee and talk. He made me feel at ease and we became friends.I now hold down a full-time job, I have a girlfriend and a wonderful family who supported me every inch of the way. I was very lucky and I never want to let anyone down again. I hope you enjoy my paintings as much as I did donating them to this program.
Sadly, instead of keeping it [graffiti] on paper and as an art, I was involved in defacing a building, which I deeply regret...Thanks to Restorative Justice who gave me a chance to not have a criminal record. I had a mentor that trusted me and believed in me. We would meet up for coffee and talk. He made me feel at ease and we became friends. I now hold down a full-time job, and I have a girlfriend and a wonderful family who supported me every inch of the way.
From the Classroom Conversation Circles
I learned about other’s feelings, that everyone matters and people have different opinions.
We expressed ourselves and talked freely without the feeling of judgment.
I learned how to get out of my comfort zone and be honest with my feelings.
I like that we can talk openly expressing our feelings and play games and that lets off a lot of stress.
I have students who have been previously disengaged, participating more than ever.
I really enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised by the insights my students had surrounding some of the topics.
It is so amazing, I wish it were in every class, it creates a special environment, I hope it can become a standard in all schools.