Pam's Paper Blog - February 2017

posted 4 Mar 2017, 08:47 by Richard Jones   [ updated 4 Mar 2017, 08:47 ]

Dear friends, 

As I settled down to write this month’s article for the magazine, the news was full of the tragic death of the two young school girls in Oldham who were knocked down crossing the road in a hit and run incident. I wonder if you assumed as I did that the driver would be a young man. This would have taken the tragedy to three lives as his would always be blighted by his own youthful recklessness.  Somehow the folly of youth is easier to understand and forgive.

But of course I was wrong. It fills me with anger and frustration that these two young cousins were apparently killed by someone old enough to know better; someone who had already been banned from driving.  These frustrating events create a desire in us to have the perpetrators locked up and the key thrown away. Do these people not understand the consequences of their action? Obviously not!

As Christians we’re asked to live by the rules that Moses brought down Mount Sinai two thousand years before Jesus lived; the ten commandments. These rules were once the heartbeat of our society, learnt by rote at school, but now they’re not that well known. Jesus summarised them into the ‘golden rule’:

‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7 : 12 

In our modern justice system there is now a practise called restorative justice. This is used to help prisoners face the consequences of their crimes by listening to the feelings and effects their crime has had on the lives of those they have wronged. When a victim of a crime talks about how the crime has injured them and how they have had to adapt their lives afterwards it can be very powerful. It prevents the prisoner from ignoring the consequences of what they have done; it forces them to face their crime and helps them to be sorry. It is far better to challenge the attitude of a prisoner so they change their ways than it is to simply lock them up. Restorative justice has been found to be so successful it is now used routinely in schools to settle incidents that happen there.

Restorative justice is often talked about in terms of human dignity but it is really the use of this ‘golden rule’ of Jesus’. When we take that moment to ask ourselves how we would like to be treated in any set of circumstances. Then use that thinking to guide our own actions in the way we treat others it changes how we proceed in life. If we all used it wisely we would find we lived in a much more caring and safe environment. 

Pam Daunton