Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 26

L I T ERAT URE IN RE VIE W Continued from page 23 Sikh. Like maps with Antarctica at the top, this dislocation helps us see a familiar issue in a novel light. In a further perspective shift, the volume, published by the State University of New York Press, contains only two American researchers and three U.S.-educated authors. Others hold degrees from, or work, in China, Japan, Israel, and—a majority—Canada. The chapters differ both in their presenta- tion and in the degree to which they claim restorative justice roots in their tradition. The Hinduism chapter, for example, is densely packed with citations from the Vedas, heavily annotated, and directly concedes that “the classical system of justice in Hinduism can be classified as a system of retributory justice.” The Buddhism chapter, on the other hand, is more approachable, and places at its cen- ter Buddhism’s focus on human nature. Ac- cording to the author, “the only reason Bud- dhism accepts for punishing an offender [is] to help him reform his or her character.” To Buddhism, the unenlightened person is “af- flicted by greed, ill will, and delusion; that is, all of us are somewhat mad.” Most applicably to Restorative Justice, traditional Buddhism “Most applicably to Restorative Justice, traditional Buddhism begins by allowing the parties to settle their conflict themselves...” Page 24 Winter 2019 begins by allowing the parties to settle their conflict themselves, then through concilia- tors, then informal judicial opinion, and only as “a last resort” turning to the courts. Chinese thought, on the other hand, is di- vided into many streams, from Confucian- ism to the Tao, united in their “virtue ethic” approach, in which “punishment was not pri- marily the purpose of retribution; it was only meted out with the expressed goal of rid- ding the person of moral evil.” The Confucian, Buddhist, and Chinese moral and judicial systems each see humans naturally good, but unenlightened, and that “because they are shaped by culture, human beings rarely grasp who they are in their essence or pure state.” Therefore “everything about an of- fender’s situation is taken into consideration,” and “the main concern... is not with ruling on guilt, but with determining the intention.” As Kant was to put it a couple of millennia later, “the only thing in this world that is good without qualification is the good will.” If these chapters are helpful to the Western or the Abrahamic reader, the section on Sikh- ism is a revelation for most of us. The third- largest of the religions originating in India, and the youngest of the world’s twelve larg- est faiths, Sikhism has over a million North American adherents, and a half million in Europe. Blending several elements of the monotheistic religions, It transforms dharma from a retributive to a restorative concept by focusing on the efficacy of forgiveness. Although Sikhism had to adopt a militant posture as a response to persecution, at its heart it remains committed to conciliation CSEE Connections