Saturday, July 30, 2011

Family Talk

An article I read recently about the killings in Norway pointed out a way of handling horrific situations in a way I never seriously considered until recently. "There was a Ghandhian flick to the Oslo mayor's pronouncement that the correct response to the killer was 'to punish him with democracy and love.'"

I noticed a striking similarity to an approach described by Libby Hoffman in a talk I attended before leaving for Australia about her film Fambul Tok (family talk), which follows reconciliation and forgiveness in post-conflict Sierra Leonean communities. Instead of jails and negative forms of punishment, she described villages that traditionally took a more positive approach to transgressions by community members. The transgressor would stand in the middle of a circle, surrounded by his community, and each person would provide positive statements about his worth and value in that community. The film's website states that the Sierra Leoneans "often repeat a local saying-- 'There is no bad bush to throw away a bad child,' meaning that even bad members of the community are needed and must be rehabilitated for the community to thrive."

Food for thought.

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