I wonder while I wander

…musings about this wild and wonderful world

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Creating meaningful connections…

What is the difference between sympathy and empathy, and how do they work to either alienate others or to build bridges and create true understanding and compassion?


Why is it so easy for us to resort to sympathy when a loved one shares a difficulty with us?

Is it in some way defensive, perhaps because we are intimidated by the negative emotions of others? Are we afraid to appear vulnerable or to open up to the needs of another person? Do we feel awkward and simply don’t know the appropriate thing to say or do? Do we feel like it is our responsibility to fix the other person or their problem, rather than just being fully present and witnessing the other’s experience?

How can we practice true empathy in our daily life with those around us?


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Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?

This excellent article from the New York Times tells the story of a young man who murders his girlfriend, and the road he, his family and his girlfriend’s family travel on their way toward healing, forgiveness and restitution. ┬áThis bold look at what is known as ‘restorative justice’ challenges the way we usually think about criminal justice, crime and punishment, and offers hope in the possibility that both criminals and victims of crime can work toward true healing after terrible tragedies.

It is a very powerful story and has had me thinking for days. It doesn’t offer any easy answers or solutions, because particularly in cases of violent crime, no easy solutions or quick fixes exist. But it has made me question the limitations and failures of the current norms of criminal justice, and wonder how something like restorative justice could be used on a wider scale, and in what situations it would even be appropriate.

Is it really something practical that could be used beyond a few exceptional situations? What in our society would hinder further use of restorative justice and how could these hindrances be overcome? Is this a practice that can only be successful in smaller scale communities on a case by case basis or could it ever become the institutional norm?

Read the article here: Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?