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Moju, a new blog that started last Friday, is dedicated to fostering a civil society in Sri Lanka by developing ideas and discourses relating to peaceful human relationships. The blog organizers state that they hope to include articles and opinion pieces “relating to peace, governance, charity work, gender empowerment,” and so on. The blog logo, a picture of an eggplant, is explained enigmatically by a link to a recipe for a fried dish called Brinjal Moju (Eggplant Moju).

One of the first essays, “Restorative Justice—An Option for Transforming a Violent Society,” by Johann Rebert, provides a brief overview of the ways that the justice systems of many societies emphasize restoration of relationships rather than, or in addition to, retribution. The article describes John Paul Lederach’s framework for transforming conflict—how restorative justice can lead to effective reconciliation.

The author cites two examples of restorative justice, the Ho’oponopono system of the Hawaiians and the Becharaa process of the Semai. Rebert briefly reviews the nature of the Semai becharaa to show how emotions are drained out of the participants by the proceeding. Rebert cites Robarchek 1997 as his source of information, though he neglects to mention that the full text of that article is available on this website. Rebert’s article is designed as a brief introduction to restorative justice rather than a full scholarly examination of the subject.

The other essays this first week, by different authors, are also generally thoughtful, and most are complemented with interesting comments by readers. One entry discusses the lesson of the Rwanda tragedy for Sri Lanka—how much do major world powers really care about the affairs of small countries? Another asks if a hungry person should have any interest in the concerns of the international NGOs that operate in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka? Still another, titled “All These Inane Peacey Things,” plus its comment string, reflect on the sometimes silly ways that NGOs try to promote peace.

Another essay, “Transformation, Not Just Reform of the State, Is the Need of the Hour,” captures the basic message of this website. A whole society must accept significant changes if it is to become peaceful—cosmetic modifications in state structures will not be enough.

While the focus of one of the first entries on the Semai becharaa should interest some visitors to this website, the aim of all the writers for Moju in fostering a peaceful, civil society in Sri Lanka is worth attention too. Sri Lanka is one of many societies that can profit from this kind of discussion. Unfortunately, the blog entries themselves do not include the names of the authors: they are only included on the contents list of the Home Page.

Other than that, Moju epitomizes a good blog: interesting, informed, focused discussions on local issues that may have much broader applicability. It provides an effective example for others to emulate.