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Forgiveness: A Choice for Freedom and Transformation in Restorative Justice

  • Face-to-Face Forgiveness in Action Conversations between former combatants, enemies or victims and perpetrators drive restorative justice Image Credit: Mark Umbreit

  • Face-to-Face Forgiveness in Action Conversations between former combatants, enemies or victims and perpetrators drive restorative justice Image Credit: Mark Umbreit

  • Face-to-Face Forgiveness in Action Conversations between former combatants, enemies or victims and perpetrators drive restorative justice Image Credit: Mark Umbreit

  • Face-to-Face Forgiveness in Action Conversations between former combatants, enemies or victims and perpetrators drive restorative justice Image Credit: Mark Umbreit

  • Face-to-Face Forgiveness in Action Conversations between former combatants, enemies or victims and perpetrators drive restorative justice Image Credit: Mark Umbreit

Forgiveness: A Choice for Freedom and Transformation in Restorative Justice

Face-to-face conversations between combatants and enemies from various settings are the very real, very difficult core of restorative dialogue.

That’s because listening to the wisdom of former enemies who have found the courage to engage in face-to-face dialogue with the person or parties that harmed them offers many profound lessons and practical guidance to foster the energy of authentic love and forgiveness in the lives of anyone in severe conflict and trauma.

“Forgiveness is not some saintly act, it’s not some ‘should,’ says Mark Umbreit, the founding director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota. “It’s not saying ‘I forgive you and I forget it.’ Forgiveness is far more than that, it’s a gift of awakening.”

The Fetzer Institute is partnering on the production of a video, book and booklet, website, and several other communication tools to spread awareness of the approaches that work in the field and the powerful results they bring.

The project will present stories of resolution efforts among individuals who have lost loved ones to violence, communities facing hate crimes and representatives of nations in conflict. Its earthy, inspirational approach offers practical lessons for all people facing severe conflict or trauma.

“Restorative justice views crime not just as a violation of technical laws…it’s a wound within the community,” Umbreit told an interviewer at the University of Minnesota. “Justice fosters true accountability and healing, not just expensive punishment, through face-to-face dialogue whenever possible. It provides the opportunity for those most affected by crime—victims, communities, and offenders—to be directly involved in the process of accountability and healing."

This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on the Social Sciences.

Three-minute overview video on restorative justice work