Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Whole New World

I'm not sure why this song from “Aladdin” pops into my head as I think about the G8/G20 summits. The sugar-coated lyrics set to dreamy music is in stark contrast to the pictures on the news of burning police cars, protesters-turned-thugs, and police in riot gear beating their batons against body shields as they slowly and doggedly move towards the crowds of people.

“A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming”

The motto of the security plan for the summits seemed to be “More and bigger is better.” So, walls were built, thousands upon thousands of policemen from across Canada were deployed, public transit was shut down, and normal, innocent people were seen as suspect.

As I was listening to the reports of the summit, I tried to think about alternative ways the Summits might have been held.

What if, instead of meeting secretively together to listen to the CEOs of the largest companies in the manufacturing and financial sector, the leaders of the world's richest countries would have invited the poorest people (of their own countries and of others) to bring their perspective to the conversation?

What if the leaders attending the G8/G20 Summit would have worked with protest groups ahead of time to understand what each others' interest were.

What if, when people were arrested, opportunity would have been given for them to take responsibility for their actions and to be held accountable to repair the damage they had caused?

What if …. The pragmatist on my right shoulder is practically rolling on the ground laughing – it's impossible, she hoots.

A whole new world … it's what we, who see Restorative Justice as an alternative way of relating in the world, hope for.


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