Elevate Difference

Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality: A Call for a Compassionate Revolution

A former trial lawyer, Sylvia Clute became disheartened with the prevailing justice system and began her search for new approaches to justice. In her compelling book, Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality, she calls for a compassionate revolution that is based on the “Oneness” or unity of life. Clute offers a new vision of a legal system and its criminal and civil litigation gaps, and explains the failures of the justice system and other institutions that are based on a philosophy of dualism which pits “us” versus “them," “winners” versus “losers," and “insiders” versus “outsiders." She makes a strong point by underlying that we should not see ourselves as separate entities struggling for dominance over each other, but rather as a per of a larger, compassionate “oneness."

In Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality, Clute calls for a holistic approach to justice while exploring distinctions between oneness v. duality, power v. control, duality v. polarity. She explains oneness as the container which holds certain human experiences such as trust, transparency, generosity, reconciliation, forgiveness, healing, restoration, faith, hope, compassion, security, and peace. On the other hand, duality holds different experiences—suspicion, secrecy, divisiveness, judgment, attack, revenge, retribution, greed, jealousy, insecurity, and war. Any aspect of life can be constrained within the small container of duality, or it can be transformed to reflect the all-inclusive container of Oneness.

She offers rather new approach to the basic foundations of restorative justice, called “unitive justice,” which promotes inclusiveness, aims for healing and reconciliation, and desires relationships that are harmonious, equitable, and peaceful. It is the exact opposite of punitive justice which is grounded in fear and separation and based on the idea that punishment is a deterrent to crime. These new approaches to justice are not limited to the lawyers only, but to all people active in “addressing the unfairness of laws that sustain social ills-like poverty, homelessness, and discrimination." Clute sees positive signs of change in the Green Movement, conscious capitalism, peace building and conflict resolution, and restorative justice.

At the end of her book, Clute offers a number of thoughtful and provocative questions suitable for group discussions which are based on each chapter. Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality will be of interest to all people interested in social justice issues, in particular restorative justice.

Written by: Olivera Simic, October 30th 2010