Synopses & Reviews
This philosophical and spiritual look at justice begins, predictably, with a critique of the existing justice system but casts its net widely, examining the pervasive feelings of guilt and failure, the sense of separateness that all external reward-and-punishment systems create--whether in families, schools, businesses, or courts. We feel that we are being judged constantly; we even internalize messages that we are "no good." Perhaps worse, inner motivation is destroyed by rewards and punishments, so that creative expression wanes, a loss for individuals and society alike. The alternative is to create a justice system that is not from "outside in" but "inside out." Looking at astonishing examples among Native Americans, the authors show that many human cultures over thousands of years flourished without resorting to reward-punishment systems. Indigenous peoples, for instance, affirmed the uniqueness of each individual, crafting social forms that drew out that uniqueness. The results were cohesive societies that can serve as models for changing our fundamental approach to fairness today. Realizing that most readers will wonder what a different system might be, the authors turn to the restorative justice movement and its successes all over the world, providing examples of victim-offender mediation that will convert the most hardened skeptic. For a larger scale, they turn to the Ojibway-Cree Hollow Water community, which has revolutionized ideas of justice in Canada. Denise Breton is one of the finest philosophers writing today, able to present difficult subjects in engaging ways to the public. Now, with her co-author (her former editor at Hazelden), she has produced a definitive critique of our present socialization system, with its inaction in the face of suffering and its instilling of fear and guilt society-wide. To this "counterfeit" justice, they pose the alternative of rediscovering our souls, that powerful inner uniqueness that is the basis for true community.
Almost daily, we encounter a world that seems unjust, while authorities we depend on seem to be powerless or working for the wrong side. To make matters worse, we often feel judged by those same authorities -- parents, teachers, employers, religious leaders, and legal officials. Though Denise Breton and Stephen Lehman agree that our justice system should be restructured, they speak to our individual and collective trials in a surprising way. They forge a solution in our own backyards and schoolyards.In their ground-breaking book, Breton and Lehman show how reward-and-punishment systems dehumanize every aspect of our lives, beginning in childhood. Carrots and sticks, instead of making us productive, shut down creativity. As our inner motivation is destroyed, our creative expression wanes, a loss for us and our societies.The alternative is to create a culture -- as well as a justice system -- that affirms the soul, the uniqueness of each individual, crafting social forms that draw out that uniqueness. The Mystic Heart of Justice offers both powerful examples and methods for forging a "soul-centered" society that provides every citizen with an inner and outer sense of fairness and wholeness.Denise Breton lectures and counsels on practical spirituality and is the co-author of The Soul of Economies: Spiritual Evolution Goes to the Marketplace; The Paradigm Conspiracy: Why Our Social Systems Violate Our Human Potential and How We Can Change Them; and Love, Soul, and Freedom: Dancing with Rumi on the Mystic Path.Stephen Lehman is former editor and publisher of Elysian Fields Quarterly, co-author of two children's books, and author of a chemical dependency treatment curriculum for criminaloffenders."The Mystic Heart of Justice is a bracing and eloquent book that speaks to the concept of justice in an organic and moving way. . . . It has forever changed the way I think about right and wrong. It should be required reading in every law school in the world."---Dr. C
About the Author
Denise Breton lectures and counsels on practical spirituality and is the co-author of The Soul of Economies; The Paradigm Conspiracy; and Love, Soul, and Freedom. Stephen Lehman is former editor and publisher of Elysian Fields quarterly, co-author of two children's books, and author of a chemical-dependency treatment curriculum for criminal offenders.