A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

In Celebration of my International Work

This journey began in 2009 when I graduated law school and moved to India, then South Africa, then Australia, and soon will be somewhere in South America...

The majorly visible successes so far:
(1) India passed a national law criminalising child sexual abuse.
(2) Australia is passing new laws to criminalise forced and servile marriage.
(3) Dalton Private Reserve in South Africa has been remade into Zulu Waters and has new management and increased success, which can further support the Dalton Education Trust. And in addition to the preschool we electrified, the government has finally erected poles in the communities.
(4) Australia's announcement of the country's first inquiry into sexual abuse in religious institutions.

To celebrate I would like to share the opening I wrote and delivered for a restorative justice circle I facilitated as a project of the Melbourne Victims' Collective in April 2011. Participants included: members of clergy, victims’ advocate, police officer, survivors of clergy sexual abuse and support persons. I have removed names and refer in the text below to the speakers as 'survivor advocates.' I hope you enjoy.

Thank you for coming today; my name is Valerie and I will be the facilitator for the next two hours.
Restorative justice is about the interconnection of humanity and the strength we have in that connection represented in this circle today.
We all have pain inside. The sanctity of the body is the sanctity of the mind, and the violation of the body is the violation of the mind, not just of those who are sexually abused but a violation of us all.
Through these restorative justice Building Bridges circles, survivors fearlessly persevere through their own realms of suffering to share their pain. We who sit in solidarity with survivors in this space open ourselves to take societal responsibility for the survivors’ pain and seek to thereby slightly easing the burden they carry.
As concerned community members we are committed to shifting suffering into a positive energy. We vow to protect all children and adults from sexual abuse. We also see that until sick people are identified and helped, children will continue to be abused. Abusers are sick, and are the products of instability in our society.
We vow to develop compassion to protect all people, and to cultivate peace within ourselves to bring about peace in society. This is the tireless mission of the survivors and clergy abuse advocates who are bravely and generously sharing the story of their family’s pain and suffering with us today. It depends on us to move this pain in a positive direction to create the safe and loving communities we wish to live in.
To outline what will happen, first we will send this ball of wool around to symbolize the interconnection of us all and our commitment to cultivating peace by working together. Because we are blessed with such a large circle today it is important to keep introductions short, stating your name and role today, because we are all here for the survivors. After introductions, the survivors will speak about their family’s abuse in the Melbourne Archdiocese.
We will honour their words, and to let them take a breath will take a five-minute break after they speak to stand and stretch our legs and have some water. We will resume the discussion to share how you are feeling about what the survivors have said, what you see as the harms and impacts they have suffered, and ideas for ways forward to begin to address and repair those harms on a small and large scale. I will close with a few words, and at 4pm we will break and share tea together. Again, with this large of a group, I ask that you be mindful your words are your best and brief. 
And so this powerful restorative healing circle began. I am very grateful to everyone who has supported me in my work thus far, and all of my amazing and inspiring co-workers and friends I have made along the way. I love and miss you all. (Photo by Luke Ringland, I am hugging the Angel Oak Tree outside Charleston, SC, USA)

Posted byValerie at 2:15 AM 1 comments