New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Common Cause

January 29, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Healing the Criminal Justice System

by Robert C. Koehler

“It’d be really hard to have a higher recidivism rate than we have in Cook County.” Maybe this is the place to start a brief meditation on changing the world, or at least Chicago . . . known to some of its residents as “Chiraq.”

commoncauseThe speaker is Elena Quintana, executive director of the Adler Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice, which, in partnership with Roosevelt University’s Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, recently completed a study on Cook County’s dysfunctional juvenile justice system.

What we’re doing isn’t working, justice-wise, order-wise, sanity-wise. The state of Illinois is bankrupt and yet its jails are full to bursting, at a cost, per occupant, equal to or greater than the cost of luxury suites at its ritziest hotels. And 90 percent of the teenagers who enter the system come back within three years of their release. This is no surprise: The system is a spiral of entrapment, especially for young men of color. (more…)

Open Our Eyes…

October 03, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Hope Flows from Hollow Water

by Robert C. Koehler

The community was out of control — the children, oh my God, the children, were sniffing gasoline and pretty much abandoning any pretense of a future — and the social and criminal-justice systems were just adding to the problem. Nothing was working.

“Our children slammed us against a brick wall,” Burma Bushie said.

This is the story of a culture in shambles. It was the early 1980s. Bushie’s community is called the Hollow Water First Nation Reserve, a village of about 900 people in eastern Manitoba, more or less at the end of the highway. There was one road in and one road out.

They may have felt utterly isolated in their troubles, but what a few of them started to do — in synchronicity with people in other indigenous communities — has spread hope and awareness across the planet. They began reaching beyond the known (i.e., Western) world, deep into their souls and into the roots of a lost way of life, to save their children and the future. Without intending to, they started a movement. And the slow reverberation of change continues to spread. (more…)

Unlikely Friends

April 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Diane Lefer, Family

When Victims and Perpetrators Meet

by Diane Lefer

A few years back, after I spent an evening at a halfway house for men on parole, Sister Mary Sean Hodges challenged me. She has worked tirelessly through the Office of Restorative Justice, LA Archdiocese, on behalf of incarcerated men and women and those seeking to reenter society. She liked what I’d done advocating for gang members, prisoners, and criminal justice reform, but in her view I had fallen short. “You have to meet the victims, too,” she said.

I did, and soon felt overwhelmed and helpless in the face of so much pain and rage. I wished there could be another way — a better way — to cope with such grief, but when I heard of other ways, I was cynical. I loved Reginald Denny for forgiving the teens who beat him unconscious during LA’s civil unrest, but, hey, with his head injury, he remembered nothing of the attack and I figured that made it easier to forgive. As for other cases I heard about, seriously, would you open your heart to your child’s murderer? I wanted to admire such compassion but it seemed more like delusional naïveté. You’d have to be a saint — or crazy. (more…)

Women, Healing, Autonomy

April 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Guest Author

Reclaiming Our Bodies Means Restoring Indigenous Wellness Practices

by Lorena Hernández and Vanessa García

As Mexicanas living in a Western society, it has become very easy for us to observe and realize that women are increasingly losing autonomy over their bodies. Coming from a culture of women that take pride over understanding and healing their own bodies, we have seen a movement away from this ideal.  Presently, we see ourselves and other women succumbing to the Western medicinal and governmental bodily regulations without any resistance.

Recent bills in action have made us wonder, “What is going on with society?” The proposed House Bill 206 in New Mexico “would charge a rape victim who ends her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for tampering with evidence.”(1) This outrageous proposal not only attempts to reduce the seriousness of the emotional trauma caused by rape, but it also undermines the rights of women and the freedom to do lo que se les de la gana (whatever they want), with their own body. How did it become acceptable for the government to mandate corporal regulations? How did we lose autonomy over our own bodies? To fully understand this issue, we need to take a look at the evolution of healing and medicine in Mexican and Mexican-American culture. (more…)

War Without End

March 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Kathy Kelly, Politics

A Civilized Country Would Heed the Call for Healing

by Kathy Kelly

Ten years ago today, Iraqis braced themselves for the anticipated “Shock and Awe” attacks that the United States was planning to launch against them. The media buildup for the attack assured Iraqis that barbarous assaults were looming. I was living in Baghdad at the time, along with other Voices in the Wilderness activists determined to remain in Iraq, come what may. We didn’t want U.S.-led military and economic war to sever bonds that had grown between ourselves and Iraqis who had befriended us over the past seven years. Since 1996, we had traveled to Iraq numerous times, carrying medicines for children and families there, in open violation of the economic sanctions which directly targeted the most vulnerable people in Iraqi society — the poor, the elderly and the children. (more…)

A Healing Justice?

May 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Overcoming the State of Fear Through Restorative Practices

by Robert C. Koehler

This was the headline: “Zimmerman, Martin’s parents to face off in court.”

The words, of course, merely summed up a moment in the news cycle last week. We, the news-consuming public, were primed — by CBS, but it could have been any mainstream outlet — for a tidbit of potential drama the next day in the hottest murder trial around right now. But in the process, we were also silently reminded, yet again, that everything is spectacle. At the level at which we call ourselves a nation, nothing is serious, not even matters of life and death.

There’s something so painful about all this — painful beyond the horror of the crime itself, or the national murder rate. The 24-7 media trivialize the stakes and gleefully report the “courtroom drama” as a sporting event; but even more distressingly, the legal bureaucracy swings into motion without the least awareness of any value beyond its own procedures. It all happens with a certainty of purpose that generates the illusion that things are under control and social order prevails. But none of this has anything to do with what social order actually requires when harm has occurred, which is . . . healing. (more…)

Guided by Gaia

April 25, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jan Lundberg

Sharing with All Life on a Finite Planet

by Jan Lundberg

When I first heard of the Gaia Hypothesis in the 1990s, as formulated by chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis, I was skeptical but respectful of the idea.  I didn’t rule it out.  But neither did I feel confident that the Earth is a living single organism.  Perhaps I was too caught up in scientific reductionism, and needed to have proof — such as to sit down with Gaia herself.  So I took note of the notion and kept on trying to save and heal Earth.

About this time, one small deliberate act regardless of the Gaia Hypothesis was that I stopped putting the article “the” in front of Earth, so as to use Earth as a name, or her name.  Is it unscientific or childish for our home planet to have a personal-type name?  If so, we probably need to be less “scientific” and more childish.  Do you remember your child-wonder when you were very young and noticed the trees’ sound in the wind?  I thought they were talking to me. Many years later I remembered this after forgetting it.

As an environmental activist most of my adult life, I have loved nature as I always had. But I could relate to being sufficiently unaware of threats to nature’s health so as to find it easy to keep consuming products, burning fuel, wasting packaging, etc. (more…)