— E.M. Forester
The above epigraph to Forester’s masterpiece Howards End often serves as the first slide of presentations at Restorative Justice Practices (RJP) conferences and meetings. Its overuse sometimes gets a discrete chuckle from veteran participants, including me. Until it appeared once again at a 2019 conference I attended, sparking a change of heart. I started focusing on individuals among the motley crowd jockeying for sparse seats in the blank hotel meeting room. RJP attracts people of all ages, races and creeds, hometowns and countries of origin. What’s that person’s story? What brings them here? Suddenly the epigraph seemed to say it all. “Only” is not a second thought, but the core focus. Only examine the nature and contour of the connections, and in any field, you’ll find the meaning — the heart of any story, or lack of it. By targeting your own connections, you can have work that feels like play, uplifting hobbies, relationships that sustain mental, cognitive and emotional health.
Personally, I’m recovering from a decade-plus of starting and running a non-profit that received a $3.68 million dollar grant from the feds. Sounds great. It wasn’t. But becoming something of a bureaucrat did add to a lifetime of lessons learned about how institutions can either support or ruin human connection.
There’s a bit more about me HERE.