It is when we discover that we are not favoured by justice within a particular system of power that our minds start to undo themselves. We become perpetually stressed; we are traumatised.
From an outsider’s perspective, justice denied may not seem like a significant problem. After all, in a practical sense, life goes on, and we all end up somehow coping.
From the point of view of the one denied justice, however, life comes to a stop. He or she is not sure that they hold any place within the system as a whole anymore, or whether they have been scapegoated, pushed to the outside of the community, where reciprocity no longer comes into play.
From the very core of their being, they feel the most profound anxiety.
Should they go on acting as if nothing had happened to them (that is, as if no injustice was committed) when they know that the opposite was true? Should they try on an attitude of equality and hold their breath? Perhaps the other person would truly reciprocate in an affirming fashion, thus making things temporarily seem all okay again.
But what about the next person you came across? Would they reciprocate, too, or was the prior experience of reciprocation just a happy accident, a fluke — and all the same something to get you to let down your guard so that you can be violated again?
To publicly correct what had been wrong, to treat the person justly, would break the spell of deep anxiety, for this spell was cast at the very basic level of the mind’s early evolutionary consciousness. Here, the symbolically simplified message from past experiences speaks thus: “Your leaders will not protect you against violence or destruction.” Despite this being the case, if a community leader were to speak towards the issue of justice, this would reverse the original spell. Such manner of speaking is effective, for it targets a very fundamental level of consciousness — the level of consciousness that otherwise proceeds to handle things in a mode of fight or flight This is at the level of thinking where one’s understanding of power relations is processed and developed. Without restorative justice, the basic level of fight or flight processing follows its own script. It continues to counsel: ‘Flee, for you have been found unworthy — and who knows what they will do to you next?”
To ignore hostility is to expose oneself to an even greater risk of harm. So, one’s psychological survival system continues to bark out its warning, one solidly founded upon the survival experiences of all human beings who have lived throughout the ages. It cries out convincingly!
“Get out of here” — it screams forth: “This is not a place for you, not a place where justice is done.”