Thank You for The Idea
Firstly, I am not able to claim this idea as completely my own, simply because it is not. Last night I was listening to Marc Richardson and his team deliver their usual Wednesday night of paranormal radio with guests Ciaran and Anna O’Keeffe. During which one of the listeners, Kerry (apologies I didn’t catch your surname) asked Ciaran; ‘do you think restorative justice happens in the spirit world?’
Ciaran’s reaction, like my own I guess, was one of interest regarding this question. In fact, I found the concept really fascinating and the cogs certainly started turning there and then.
Now, just to be clear this blog will only lightly touch the subject matters here, as I am sure a whole paper could be written on this or perhaps even a book – note for later maybe. Plus a blog post does not have the capacity to explore this in depth. However, as ever if you like this idea and would like me to follow it up in more detail, please show your appreciation below and comment away.
What is Restorative Justice?
Right, let us jump straight in and touch on the basics here regarding restorative justice. Fundamentally, restorative justice is an approach to justice where a response to a crime is to arrange a meeting between the victim and the offender. That way both parties gain from the interaction.
It’s principles outline that crime causes harm and justice should focus on repairing that harm, but the people most affected by the crime should be able to participate in its resolution.
Whilst personally I can see that there maybe circumstances where this approach would work completely, there are equally situations which may actually cause more harm; especially for the victim. As I assume, I am by no means an expert here, that it would require a certain amount of co-operation from both victim and offender. Not all offenders would be receptive to such an approach and may see it as an opportunity to greater intimidate the victim. Although I am sure the authorities involved would make every effort to prevent that occurring.
Sill, how would this approach transfer into the paranormal field?
Converting to a Paranormal Setting
Now we have a basic understanding of restorative justice, in what possible scenario would it convert to the paranormal field in order to be used? Firstly, its worth explaining that in my opinion we will need to agree on a certain number of assumptions.
Firstly, we will have to agree that ghosts/spirits are the continued existence of someone’s consciousness. The reason being is that for it to work we need to understand that this element that is still very much under question for many, is simply accepted and understood. Especially if our victim or indeed our offender is to be situated in the spirit world. Hence belief is going to play an active role here it would seem.
Secondly, we will need a scenario in which restorative justice would apply. For example; the victim would need to be a spirit that could communicate to the offender that potentially was influential in putting our victim in the spirit world. Alternatively, the offender is now in the spirit world and able to communicate with the victim whom they committed the crime against during their lifetime. The third option (William James would be proud) could be that both our offender and victim are in the spirit world; and as paranormal investigators we are helping the communication between them.
Oddly, that third option does often appear to show up during many ghost hunts at various locations. Often in these situations; Mediums, Ouija Boards or even Spiritboxes (not to mention a bundle of other ITC) are attributed to providing enough information for the Ghost Hunters to define that; a lesser weaker spirit (often a child or woman) is currently held or restricted in some way by a stronger darker entity (often a man or Demon according to popular TV shows). These dramatic scenarios actually often lack good evidence to support their existence and are based more on feeling or even assumption. They certainly seem to lack objective evidence.
However, in order to put our restorative justice approach into action; we would need a little more of a controlled situation. Something which is extremely hard to obtain outside of the laboratory. Given our focus would be on communication between victim (or indeed the victims family) and the offender; the obvious choice here would likely be a séance room type approach with a gifted medium to assist. That way the medium could be provided with limited information in order to contact the offender or victim, with the offender or victim present. That way we could focus on controlled questions used to establish identity of the discarnate entity and ensure that the conversation is happening between the actual victim and offender. Although it could be argued that such an establishment of identity is relatively subjective in nature, as we still haven’t established spirits in fact. As I said though, we may just have to believe for now!
If such a communication could be setup then we could record the event as the victim and offender communicate, perhaps helping to resolve the situation. Although, it may be difficult for the victim to resolve if they are in the spirit world and our offender put them there. Pretty sure I would take issue with the offender on that.
Of course this approach has many many problems. To begin with we are establishing a communication method based on an unproven element, namely the spirit world. Hence we could be conversing with our own or someone else’s unconscious mind. Or is it subconscious?
An approach where an individual attempts to contact someone that is apparently in a realm we have little knowledge of is leaving ourselves open to many variables. I am not talking evil entities either here, just many variables that would hinder the experiment very ambiguous.
Psychologically speaking, again no expert here, but I would have thought the approach of conversing with the spirit world would likely have a negative impact. For example, could a victim really seek resolution from an offender that has already past away? Equally, if the victim was in the spirit world could realisation that the offender had been instrumental in placing them conclude with a positive outcome?
Then there’s our current and potentially obvious problem related to ghost hunting – as in it can be more like fishing without the right bait or even know if there are any fish in the spot you’ve setup at. According to a lot of what we know, even the most active locations or scenarios are not always going to present us with a communication we can use. I am sure like me, many ghost hunters out there have spent well over six hours (if not many more) at a location only to walk away with nothing. And when we do capture something its very little, subjective and not enough to convince academics.
There are likely numerous other problems with this approach too.
Mediumship Helping with Bereavement
However, that all said I have had conversations with individuals that have advised me that taking time to visit a medium following a loss has considerably helped with their bereavement. I believe that this has even been the topic of some serious research over the years too.
So, perhaps it may be an approach worth considering, especially for a victims family that are struggle with their loss. It may even be an approach worth investigating to help rehabilitate the offender too. In that respect the offender does not meet the victim or their family, the communication is through the medium. Granted we could believe the victim is present, but it could be that the medium has access to the right information prevalent to the situation due to another psi ability.
Talking to someone that has recently lost a loved one and has received comforting information from a medium is one of those aspects of the paranormal that I personally have always struggled with I guess. Whilst I don’t discount the possibility that a medium is communicating with the spirit of the person; I equally am aware of other possible explanations to how the information is obtained. Just for the record that may include more fraudulent activities like cold reading, but also unconscious telepathic interaction (both local and non-local). However, sometimes perhaps the outcome is more important than the method. Whilst those I have known to visit mediums following a loss, admit to their visit being filled with hope that they will connect with their loved one, they equally admit they are aware it may not be a direct connection to the spirit of that person. This is a conflicting position, as surely their belief drives the positive experience.
Regardless of whether the medium is using fraudulent approaches, is actually communicating with your lost love one or is using their psi abilities unconsciously – if it helps should we question it?
What About the Ethics?
This is perhaps where a mention of ethics is worth a mention. As many will know, any research has to be able to pass when it comes to ethics in order to stand by itself. Currently I really don’t think restorative justice in conjunction with the paranormal would pass when it comes to ethics. As the approach is dealing with traumatic scenarios and experiences in both the victims and offenders lives. Attempting to utilise paranormal approaches such as mediumship, ITC or similar; that currently have not been scientifically proven, places the experiment at a level of risk. The result, in my opinion given these variables cannot be predetermined, generating risk to the wellbeing of those involved.
With that in mind; should we be perhaps rethinking our own approaches during our ghost hunts too?
Ethics is and area for great consideration and equally an area often forgotten about as ghost hunters ride into locations proton packs blazing. Seriously, I think if there was a greater consideration for ethics during investigations then we would see a complete change in approach. Especially with many now moving away from simple observation to stimulating the environment and potentially the probable spirits within.
This particular area has far more in it to be and could spur on so much more discussion. Please feel free to share your thoughts below, lets get a discussion going on this topic – the more the merrier. Also, if you have links to books, blogs or articles related to this – please link them below and we can all expand our knowledge together.