– I made it, I’m on your show, finally! – Van, let me tell you something. I’m trying to get on your show. – ‘Bout time! – Well not on this one. (laughs) Not on that one. – You don’t wanna be on that one.
– No I won’t be on that one. – Yeah that one’s rough. – Hey, let’s talk about this show, ’cause to say that this show is powerful is probably an understatement. What message are you trying to send with this new series? – Well part of it is, I spend the past 25 years of my life going in and out of prisons as an attorney, as an activist.
And I know that people go in there sometimes completely wrong. But they change sometimes. – Let me ask you this, what have you learned by witnessing these very special face-to-face moments? – I learned I’m a coward.
I am petty. I got folk I haven’t talked to for ten years ’cause of something that happened at Thanksgiving. – Yeah. – I can’t remember what the argument was. But I ain’t never gonna speak to ’em again.
– Yeah. – And then to watch a mother go into a prison, and sit down and look into the eyes of somebody who took her child’s life, and at least try to get some questions answered. And maybe try to forgive.
Now look, we got eight episodes. In two of them, the parents cannot get to a warm and fuzzy place. They can’t do it. And I understand. But they got some questions answered. But in three of the eight, it got so miraculous that the people got up and moved to get the person out of prison.
And I came of there sayin’ man, I got to do better. Because we are on T.V. fussin’ and fightin’ and arguin’ all day long over this Tweet and this thing or whatever and tearing the country apart. And then you have people with no power, but who somehow could find the grace to at least try to talk to each other? We gotta do better.
And I want the world to know that we got to do better. (applause) – Right. – We got to do better. – Let me ask you this, Van. What role does forgiveness play in all of this for you? What do you see? – For me, I came into this thing thinking it’s all about forgiveness.
Can they forgive, can they forgive? And what I learned was, forgiveness isn’t really the ultimate. For some people they say look, I can never forgive you. But what I’ve learned is that communication, at least opening up that conversation, you’ve got people that say, I’m never gonna forgive you, but tell me, what happened to my child.
You think that the perpetrator when they get sentenced they go to prison, and that the family members feel good. They don’t feel good. They are still in prison, ’cause they don’t know what happened. And the person who got the key to let them out of that prison of not knowing, is that person behind bars.
And so for us to actually be able to bring people together, even those parents and those survivors, who weren’t able to quote unquote “forgive”, they still took a step toward healing, and that was powerful.
(applause) That was powerful. – That’s interesting, man. Let me ask you this, man. Why is it, Van, that the power of redemption and restorative justice, why is that important? – ‘Cause we can’t go the way we’re going, man.
We’ve gotten to the point now, if somebody did somethin’ wrong, I don’t mean despicable stuff, but even just they said the wrong thing in a speech 15 years ago, they find it on Youtube, they’ve gotta be out of office! We can’t go on this way.
If we’re gonna have this much data about each other we gotta have this much wisdom, compassion, empathy and understanding, or we’re not gonna make it. We’re not gonna make it. (applause) If we’re gonna be honest, those of us who call ourselves progressives and activists, we should want people to change.
But if somebody’s gonna change that means were here and now they’re here. So now do you want change or do you want revenge? You gotta make a decision. So, what I’m saying is, I can’t give you the answer, but I can show you what it looks like when somebody at least tries to move in the direction of change.
What’s more important to us today? The fact that they went on the journey to become better? Or the fact that they made that mistake? Society’s gotta answer this question now because guess what? Everybody on trial now.
A Tweet you put out at 2 O’clock in the morning four years ago, could come back and cost you your job. Do you wanna live with that or do you wanna have a society that can have compassion and understanding? (applause) – Yeah, that’s special, man.
Hey folks, stick around. We got more with Van Jones when we come back. (applause) Van Jones gave Donald Trump a compliment. We’re gonna find out what that was right after the break. (laughter) That oughta hold ya.