26 September 2016
In Chapter 6 of Repair Spelman explains that there are some situations in which reparation simply cannot be achieved. There are many physical situations that can be pointed out where there is simply no form of repair that could be very effective. Spelman uses the examples of 9/11 and certain ruins from ancient times. There are also many emotional breaks that can be far beyond repair. Aside from the physical damage 9/11 inflicted on the city of New York, the emotional damage reached far greater heights. Spelman dives deeply into the idea that there can be no reparation or redemption for certain situations because of the intense seriousness of those situations. However, although these certain things cannot be repaired or redeemed, that does not mean we must attach a negative connotation to these breaks. Some people celebrate what once was instead of trying to rebuild to what used to be. Although repair is always a goal when there are breaks, Spelman does an exceptional job of explaining how repair cannot always be accomplished.
Many times we face very serious physical breaks that are far beyond reparation. When someone’s house burns down, people know fairly well that the house and the belongings inside of it are far beyond repair. However some people enjoy celebrating what something was before the serious break. These celebrations or monuments to such physical breaks are called “ruins.” A modern example of a ruin was mentioned in Chapter 6 of Repair in relation to the attack on the World Trade Center in September of 2001. The idea of keeping the ruins of the World Trade Center was suggested by Herbert Muschamp of the New York Times.
“We will probably see no more eloquent reminder of that day [September 11, 2001] than the twisted steel walls that at present rise from the wreckage of the World Trade Center… The conflict was as much over meaning as it was over access. The police represented the view that the wreckage is now cartage. To the firefighters, it is sacred space, at least until they have fulfilled their duty to recover the victims’ remains.”
Muschamp searched for a way to find beauty in the disaster that was 9/11 and the horrible aftermath of the attacks. Although it may have been a weirder idea of ruins, the premise was the same.
The September 11 terrorist attacks are a good example of irreparable damage in both physical and emotional ways because of the ways that each are far beyond repair. Having already touched on the physical aspect of the damage, the emotional damage was far greater. For years since 9/11 New Yorkers have lived in fear of follow up terrorist attacks. All over the city signs displaying the words, “See Something, Say Something,” are posted pleading for people to report any suspicion of terrorism they may have. Families who lost loved ones on that horrific day are still impacted by the tragic loss of their family members. How can one repair the break of the loss of a loved one? There is no replacing that family member or bringing them back from the dead. There is simply the memories you have of that person that you may cherish, which could also represent an emotional type of ruins. There are some emotional and physical breaks that are far beyond repair and Spelman does a fantastic job of explaining that concept.