Friday, January 9, 2009

We are social beings

One of the fundamental principles of my work is that people at their core are positive in nature - that is, social, progressive, reasonable, and realistic. That principle is based on the work of Carl Rogers, particularly his book, On Becoming a Person.
However, I realize that not all people agree with me. Some believe that people are basically sinful and only something akin to a miracle can save us; that we only overcome this flawed nature through coercion, manipulation, or punishment. This belief is based on the work of Freud and his followers. In fact, our legal system is based on this idea.
If those of us who practice restorative justice focus solely or primarily on the pathology or deficit (what's wrong), we only confirm the person's inner conviction they are fundamentally flawed (bad) and ignore the part that is good, peace seeking, and relational. Thus, I suggest that our methods should favor growth and positive change from a strengths-based position.

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