I believe that the restorative justice movement is a manifestation of something much larger than itself: a fundamental shift in how Western culture understands the nature of our species and the nature of the universe.

Assumptions about human nature and the universe underlie all our social institutions and all of our relationships—with self, with others, with the natural world. These assumptions shape the actions we take each day in the context of institutions such as our families, faith communities, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, social services, and justice systems.

My friend Howard Vogel, who teaches at Hamline Law School, talks about the “restorative impulse.” This term may be more helpful than the term “restorative justice.” As my work has evolved, the scope and depth of change required for a shift toward a restorative impulse in all situations seems greater and greater. Restorative justice was never about crime for me. It was always...

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