The Dark Intervals

transformative justice should feel like joy

We often think of dark pain as being more urgent and more deserving of our critical attention. And in some ways, that’s true because there are always those moments when people’s lives are on the line. We need to talk about that specific pain and journey so that people don’t keep dying. It’s an urgent need to get on the same page about whatever that pressing issue is so that we can work together to change it or at least survive it.

Since joy doesn’t provoke a flight, freeze, fight, or fawn response, we tend to treat it as something that doesn’t deserve our critical attention.

Joy and peace are the only two destinations I’m heading toward.

I used to think of justice as what it would feel like to see the people who have harmed us suffer, that there would be pleasure in that, right? I find there rarely is even the slightest bit of pleasure in seeing other people suffer. Maybe I’m just not built for epicaricacy.

I don’t need anyone who has wronged, abused or wounded me to suffer. I don’t want to live next to them either. What I want - is for them to own what they did, change their behavior, and live the rest of their lives in service to others. I’m not interested in anything outside of that reality. 

I don’t think forgiveness is always necessary for healing. Forgiveness requires repentance and restitution by the former perpetrator. That’s rarely the case. You can’t exorcise trauma through hate or love. It’ll just circle back, and you’ll internalize it. We can only transcend it by continually doing the work.

I don’t know how to describe it, but I believe that transformative justice should feel like joy. When the condition of joy becomes a possibility, when we feel that door beginning to swing open, and we choose to move through it, that is what justice feels like (to me). It’s more about healing myself than it is about punishing the other. It’s more a thing I make for myself, that I make with my community, that we make for one another together than it is about taking things from other people. It’s not about causing or inflicting more harm but repairing what can be healed and transforming the rest into something else entirely.