Conversations change the world.
We think so. The public thinks so too – research demonstrates that persuasive, values-based conversations are a powerful tool in changing minds.
Tough on crime politics are promoted widely in Aotearoa and are perceived to have widespread support. To change this perception, we need to start talking about it wherever we can, whenever we can: at home, at the gym, on social media, and wherever it comes up. We know that a better, more effective justice system is possible. We know we need it. It’s time others know, too.
Let’s make the time to have these conversations – they’ll have a real impact on our communities.
Having justice conversations
Nervous? Here’s some pointers that may help.
- Know what’s up. Do you know how you feel or what to say? Get familiar with the topic – we have plenty of resources below to help.
- Take it easy. There’s no need to force it. The best conversations come out of activity – a quiet moment at a party, between matches, in the car. If you see an opportunity and feel prepared, take your chance.
- Listen up. Your friends, colleagues and whānau have thought about these things too. They likely have worries, observations, and conclusions of their own. The more you understand where they’re coming from, the better you can build on it.
- Pick your battles. There are some people you won’t convince, or need to disengage from. Save your energy for the conversations where you’ll learn from each other and find common ground.
- Have a vision. We’re all here because we believe better things are possible. That’s something that inspires us to push forward with change. The people you’re talking to likely know our system is broken, on some level – catch their attention with ideas for something better.
- Appeal to shared values. We believe in justice reform for many different reasons. Perhaps you think it’s the most pragmatic solution, since our current system isn’t working. Perhaps you think people deserve better conditions, or that we’re missing out on the best Aotearoa can be, by wasting human potential. The people you’re speaking to have important values, and you likely know about at least some of them.
- Pick those values wisely. It might be best to avoid subjects that get dicey and technical, like money or national security. Most people you’ll talk to believe in protecting youth from harm, in common sense solutions, in abandoning ideas that have been proven not to work. Most people want better, safer, more unified communities. You may not draw the same conclusions from those starting points, but you can offer a different perspective.
- Name the people who can change things. Ultimately, a lot of conversations about our broken justice system end in head-shaking and helplessness. But our Government is responsible. They have created our current conditions, and they can fix them.
- Take action. Not all conversations end with something to do. But they might! Perhaps your friend would like to have some conversations of their own, or write to their MP. Perhaps they’d like to check our website out and see what catches their eye.
You alone know what’s best for the conversation you’re having, but here’s some examples of values and metaphors combining to make a complete argument. For more of these, check out The Workshop’s guide to talking about crime and justice (p44 onward).
This isn’t working.
The maze metaphor
End racism, realise justice
It’s the right thing to do.
Righting the wrongs of criminalisation
It’s what we need.
Replacing our dead-end system
It’s what we’re capable of.
The rip tide metaphor
Here’s some more resources about talking about crime and justice, one-on-one and publicly:
- How to Talk About Crime & Justice: A Guide, 2020 – The Workshop, JustSpeak
- Talking About Justice in the Context of a Pandemic: A Memo, 2020 – The Workshop
- Expert and Public Narratives on Crime in New Zealand: A Short Guide, 2019 – The Workshop
- Expert and Public Narratives on Crime in New Zealand: Gaps and Opportunities to Communicate Reform, 2019 – The Workshop