Like a rose that has sprouted in a weed garden and induced the weeds to back away in awe, the restorative justice movement has entered American legal culture and is posing an important challenge to core assumptions about human beings and about the very nature of human reality that our legal culture has taken for granted for more than two hundred years.

The United States itself was founded on a principle of human freedom that presupposed an inherent antagonism between self and other, a belief that the essential meaning of liberty was that we need to be protected against other people. This Fear of the Other was in part a rational response to the religious, social, and economic persecution that had in part characterized previous historical forms of social life, but it also introduced its own distortion into our liberal social fabric: it gave...

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