The Rapidian

Justice: Bryan Stevenson calls for new metric

Despite severe weather and road hazards, Calvin College's January Series venue was at capacity with people there to hear Bryan Stevenson, "America's young Nelson Mandela," talk about his new book about justice and mercy.
Just Peace

Just Peace /Lee Bloomquist

Bryan Stevenson is "America's young Nelson Mandela," says Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu on the back cover of Stevenson's bestselling book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

On January 9, at the Calvin College January Series, Stevenson used stories to illustrate his key themes for reform of the justice system.

He also called for a new "metric." In mathematics, "metric" means that a basic notion of distance between things exists. For example The Rapidian interview with Chief of Police Rahinsky reports a survey evaluation for the Peace Education Program used in correctional facilities. The survey invites each participant to assess self change. So a "metric" exists: for each class location, the percentage reporting self change could be used as a "metric" in order to compare the outcome of the program at one facility to the outcome at another.

Before calling for a new metric, Professor Stevenson had guided the audience through his four themes for justice: the need for face-to-face human proximity with those having the need for fairness and justice, changing the narrative from myth to reality, maintaining on a daily basis the hope without which there can be no action and choosing to do uncomfortable things- like speaking when others are silent and standing when others sit.

These themes for justice parallel a global change in narrative reported by The Rapidian regarding the UN Peace Day special hosted Sept. 21 by GRTV. From sources (see also) for this article, here is a note written by one of the participants in a Peace Education Program held in a transitional correctional facility- a note which the writer had sent by email to the author of the Peace Education Program.

The rhythm in the text is stressed through line breaks. It seems as if the writer must have spoken the words aloud many times.

"Every day we ignore the fact that we have the power to write our own story. At some point, you give up that power. I am going to leave today with a more focused agenda to write my own story day by day."

As Professor Stevenson called out to the audience at the Calvin College January Series: "We have to change the narrative."

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