Most of us don’t like going to the dentist, asking the electrician to repair something at home or taking the car to the mechanic. There is an obvious benefit to completing the action – such as when the toothache goes, when you turn on the lights you won’t get zapped or the car now starts first time and runs well. The discomfort of paying the bill is temporary and while you might say that you hate doing it, you don’t wish any ill will on the dentist, electrician or mechanic, assuming they do their job well.
It’s not hard to understand why victims of crime and their families could express feelings of ongoing and deep seated hate towards the perpetrator of the crime, as the victims lives have been irrevocably changed. From psychological problems through long-term injuries to the untimely death of a loved one, the victims of crime have to make adjustments that can be blamed on the criminal. There is no ‘coming back’ to a prior state here either. Six months after you get the car fixed and it’s still running well you’ve probably forgotten about the temporary hole in your bank account. Those who have been victims of criminal actions don’t have that luxury.
ABC News recently published an article about a restorative justice program in Victoria. In the program and after assessment by trained councillors, victims of crime and the convicted criminal meet in controlled circumstances to talk through their feelings. The article gives some examples of meetings that have occurred where both parties spent hours together, crying and resolving a lot of the anger and hate they had been carrying for years. Both the victim and the criminal usually benefit. The Victorian Law Reform Commission has recommended that there be a legislative basis for restorative justice be considered as an alternative to criminal trials as
“The criminal justice system often doesn’t give justice to victims-survivors, not every victim-survivor wants the perpetrator to go to jail – particularly where the perpetrator is a family member,”
While some may want some members of the former government to go to jail for perceived failures, that’s not going to happen. Neither is the opportunity for restorative justice where you might sit down with a former minister in a controlled environment and talk about how their decisions affected and hurt you. Luckily, there are alternatives to holding onto the feelings of hate which will probably help make you a better person.
The residents of Lismore in Northern New South Wales have had a pretty rough year. Multiple floods have destroyed a considerable area of their community, disrupting lives in all sorts of ways. One of the three high schools in Lismore was flooded and Year 12 students lost a lot of time and material that would have been used in the usual course for assessment. It didn’t stop them excelling in their final school results or having the rite of passage that is the school formal.
A hard-working group of teachers sought out a venue, decorated it, arranged catering and made sure families were able to afford tickets, while the charity Thread Together ensured every student had a brand new dress or suit to wear.
Over 60 students were outfitted across the three schools. The month before the formal, a styling session was held with dresses from Bec and Bridge and suits from Tarocash, while RM Williams and Wittner provided boots and heels, respectively. This meant each student could find an outfit to suit their personal taste. “The quality is so nice,” said school captain Connor McDougall. “It was really, really generous of Thread Together to do this for us.”
John Eakin, the year 12 adviser at Richmond River High, says his cohort are “kids that just missed out on so many enjoyable parts of school”. So it was particularly special to see them have, “a night they deserved”.
Also recently on the ABC News, there was an article about a young woman who had achieved what she thought was going to be her dream career as a F1 engineer. All it really did was give her depression and anorexia. Her father flew to Europe to bring her home and she sought treatment. The young woman now owns a chain of croissant bakeries in Melbourne and Sydney where customers queue out the door on a daily basis and her story is here.
Finding a new path and helping others isn’t solely a thing for individuals, large corporations practice giving to others as well. A number of organisations will contribute paid time for their staff to work with a non-profit organisation that gives to the community. Kmart has a ‘Giving Tree’ in every store for the public to donate a present to those that are less fortunate at Christmas. Across Australia, Bunnings donates infrastructure to community organisations as diverse as dance schools and Lions Clubs to make money from the ‘traditional’ sausage sizzle. Giving isn’t solely an Australian thing either, Canadian airline Westjet has been organising “Christmas Miracles” for a decade and publishing them on their Youtube Channel – the latest one is here.
Whether it be helping to organise a rite of passage for flood affected Year 12 students in Lismore to donating a lot of Canadian Dollars to various charities, there is a lot of good in the world. The people standing behind the BBQ at your local Bunnings next weekend aren’t making a cent for themselves from their labours, neither are those that volunteer to serve Christmas dinners to the residents of homeless shelters, run the local school’s swimming club or those who patrol our beaches for Surf Lifesaving Australia. Yet they come back to do it, time and time again. They must get some satisfaction and joy from helping others.
Which is far more than those who hate. The recent event at Wieambilla on Queensland’s Western Downs shows us again the dangerous behaviours that come from hatred. Sadly, it was not an outlier. While there will be a small percentage of people who choose to hate, you and I don’t have to be amongst them.
Sunlight has always been the best disinfectant. Rather than sitting behind a computer screen going down obscure rabbit holes on the dark web looking for evidence to support a conspiracy theory or doomscrolling news and blog sites on the internet, go outside and walk the dog, go for a drive, join a community organisation or occasionally just take time to smell the roses. Your life and community will be better for it.
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