My Golden State of California is having a major budget crisis this year. We've been spending a lot more than we're bringing in despite having cut deeply spending for social welfare and education. There are lots of reasons for our economic woes, but among them is the fact we incarcerate so many people that we now spend more in California on prisons than we do on state-funded higher education.
We may think of ourselves as very with-it and advanced here in California, but I think we could learn from the so-called primitive Babemba tribe of South Africa. Jack Kornfield, in his book The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace,writes about a different way of dealing with unskillful actions.
"In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days. At the end,the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe."