October 9, 2012
Dear Aleks, Algis and Margarita,
I’ve been a little anxious about what I will say when I speak with you next week on “peacemaking criminology” and “mediation in the criminal justice system.” Today is a day alone at home, a crisp clear autumn day. I decided about an hour ago, at midafternoon, to stop reading, turn off the radio, and look out the living area windows. To the north a pair of fledgling female blue jays flew to the pond, several others followed. And it came to me what I will do, probably on any occasion in which I am asked to lecture. I will tell a story to fit the time and up in a place to suit the occasion. In any event, it will be a story of a lifetime of trying to make a significant difference for the better in my life with others. I have had the extraordinary fortune to do my professional learning and teaching my way from earliest childhood. I have enjoyed repeated serendipity in so doing. This outline of what I will say is my latest encounter with serendipity, and I don’t take for granted this moment at home that has taken away my anxiety.
My story will begin with my brief, failed pursuit of dreams of becoming a diplomat or a trial lawyer like Clarence Darrow, dreams that turned into a career in criminal justice. There I began with two central questions: How do I evaluate what works? And how do I use my legal skills to plan effective crime control?
I will review how the various ways I tried to answer both questions failed, until I gave up trying to measure or control “crime” and “criminality” altogether. I will describe how a chance combination of student demands that I stop criticizing and tell them what works, together with my return to Norway, inspired me to define what, when applied, works, and to call it “peacemaking.” Noting how peacemaking criminology turned me from advocacy in court and grievance bodies to volunteer mediation, I will lay out principles I came to apply there. In sum I will describe how my way of learning and teaching has become a process of hearing and telling stories, the kind of mediation that works for me, the process I call peacemaking.
Because I now recognize that I learn and teach best by what my feminist friends call the narrative method, I will speak by telling my story and leave time for responses. I don’t use notes, and this will be my only outline. Feel free to pass it around in advance. Anyone is welcome to record my talks and distribute them as s/he wishes. Since I expect not to change my way of speaking when I talk about “the mediation process” in Trinidad, I am copying this message to Vash Kokaram. Thank you all so very much for inviting me to speak. Love and peace--Hal