The 14 Arcs from Punitive to Unitive Justice
Arc 1: From Rules to Values
Arc 2: From Control to Selfgovernance
Arc 3: From Deception to Honesty
Arc 4: From Judgement to Insight
Judgement: considered decisions intended to result in sensible conclusions, but often tainted by preconceived perceptions believed to be real when they are not.
A punitive system relies on judgement—discerning the divide between who is guilty or innocent, who is good or bad, who is with us and who is against us. We often judge another to be guilty, lazy or undesirable without realizing our judgement is tainted by what we project onto others—that we are seeing the speck in another’s eye while being blind to the log in our own. As judgement proliferates, separation from one another deepens, and human relations deteriorate. Our bonds of connection are torn or even severed.
Modern brain science provides evidence that judgement is not as reliable as we once thought it was. Unconscious programming lies in the recesses of the mind. Like an invisible hand, this programming guides where we direct our judgement, and it may influence our reactions to events, even when we are confident that we are being completely rational.
Judgement permits us to project blame for our intentional actions on those whom we harm. This is achieved by applying the double moral standard upon which proportional revenge depends, i.e., we claim our harming others is moral, even redemptive, yet we claim their harms are immoral and destructive, even when all are doing the same thing.
Our unconscious programming can lead to an insidious use of judgement. Those who are in control sometimes use judgement to justify their use of force or abuse as they impose control, while at the same time, judging those being controlled as deserving of the abuse (an example of the double moral standard inherent in proportional revenge.)
Moreover, judgement blocks all possibility of experiencing joy. You can only experience joy in the moment. Dwelling on past grievances and judging others, how others victimized you and how you are going to get even, destroys all possibility of experiencing joy in that moment.
Insight: a discovery of new information about the inner nature of an act or events; an act of discerning deeply that reveals new information and new possibilities that were not previously seen.
Insight is a mental portal that suddenly leads to inner sight. This inner sight accesses knowledge and understanding that was previously inaccessible. Insight paves the way for qualitatively different thinking or actions. Insight is forward looking, while judgement keeps the focus on the past.
Insight is achieved through discernment or “mindful presence.” This leads to understanding people, issues and contexts free of the projection of one’s own judgement. Insight leads to understanding the cause of one’s own pain and the pain of others, letting it be acknowledged, and perhaps seen in a new way.
Getting to insight requires peeling off layers of judgement. Because it incorporates unitive principles, the Unitive Justice Circle supports us in moving beyond judgement as we address conflict. The Unitive Justice Circle process provides an environment that supports thinking and reasoning, and even insight and connection, often leading to mutually beneficial action.
With insight, circle participants might see how they meet their needs (perhaps indirectly or unconsciously) in ways that may contribute to the conflict dynamics and/or systemic patterns that fueled the conflict the found themselves in—they may see that they were part of the cause. This insight might lead them to change how they show up in the world, to use their power differently as they go forward.