Repair or Preservation

Amanda Piccione

After finishing Elizabeth Spelman’s, Repair, I had many conflicting perspectives on how and why we repair. I wondered if repair is a preventative measure on the way to recovery. Does the necessity for repair put people in a cyclic trap? Will repair cause a person to live their life stuck trying to repair what they used to have before disaster struck.

Not everything that breaks can be fixed. The skills we repairing animals have to learn include self-reflexive ones of coming to grips with the limits of those skills and figuring out what to do in the face of the irreparable.

After the attack on the World Trade Center, this nation will never be the same, New York will never be the same, Floral Park will never be the same, families will never be the same and I will never be the same. Although our nation, 15 years later continues to strive, we must ask ourselves have we done enough. In Chapter 6, Spelman discusses the repair of ruins and whether or not they should be repaired. The question raised about these ruins apply to natural cases. Which makes me curious whether or not terrorism is considered to be natural destruction. Is a terrorist a product of “nature”. Are humans inherently evil or does evil develop due to their environments?

Spelman’s book was published 2002 approximately one year after the attacks. At the time there was confusion with what to do with the rubbles at the sight of the attack. Spelman describes the differing opinions held by police men and fire men on what is to do with the rubble. The discussion on what to preserve and what to fix in the book is very minimal. But, we now know what exactly our country did to repair. And the process of repair is still far from over.

The remains of the World Trade Center are preserved, rather than repaired to stand how it once did. The museum pays tribute to the innocent lives lost, and over 10,000 artifacts from that tragic day are displayed within the museum. I believe the museum was the best possible way to acknowledge this atrocity. Instead of attempting repair, the people who worked to build this museum created an environment which connects us to the past, and will not allow us to forget. The artifacts all contribute to the museums emotional power. Things people would consider “garbage” are displayed in this museum. Small eyeglass frames, a burnt firefighters hat, clothes covered in ash and soot from Chelsea Jeans, mangled police cars, fire trucks ambulance, and the large steel columns which once held up these towers are just a few of the artifacts that can leave anyone in the museum speechless. It would be interesting to hear Spelman’s opinion on whether or not the construction of the Freedom Tower and museum were an adequate way to represent this atrocity. Would Spelman believe this was the right way to approach the “idea of repair”?

I have visited the museum multiple times and each time and I am shocked with how much emotion can be felt. The first thing you see is the large picture of the old Twin Towers and then the redesigned Freedom Tower. The juxtaposition of these two photographs is actually quite important because it shows our ability to rebuild our nation. I think it is crucial for all people to go and pay tribute to these victims and connect with families on an empathetical level. Although terrorists are capable of breaking the literal foundations of American society, they cannot break the figurative foundations. The terrorist attacks were no match against our unquestionable sense of spirit. And because of this we will never succumb to an attack against our freedom. Although the opinions of American citizens’ can greatly vary, freedom is one undeniable right that holds the same value nationwide.

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Sorry is NOT Enough

Amanda Piccione

I’m sorry I killed your father, sorry I killed your husband, sorry I killed your best friend. Does sorry really make everything better? Is sorry a word that will make one forget about the others wrong doings? Or maybe instead use reparations. Here is 3,000 dollars will this make up for the pain I have caused you? Is money really the answer to all problems, does money make us forget? In Chapter 5 of Elizabeth Spelman’s Repair, she discusses the difference between apologies and reparations, and how they work to repair.  Unfortunately not everything is fixed this easily. Sorry will not bring someone back to life and money will not fix the gaping hole in a family.

What exactly is the difference between an apology and a reparation? A reparation is something of monetary value which allows a person to never say sorry. Thats why reparations “seem an adequate way to recognize and respond to the kinds of harms visited on some human beings by others”.  An apology should be sincere and is a result of a person admitting their wrong doing. Apologizers are vulnerable, acknowledge wrong doing and do so voluntarily. An apology is often more respectable, however apologies and reparations tend to coincide.

Tort law in the United States has long recognized emotional pain and suffering and has required payment of damages as a form of redress. Lawyers filing wrongful death claims for the dependents of September 11 victims- at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and hijacked planes- include in their calculations not only the value of the victims of expected incomes’ but the suffering endured by the victims while dying- at least in some states- the dependents’ grief, anguish, and loss of companionship.

In this sense reparations are helpful to the families of 9/11 victims. However, reparations don’t offer total repair, and they wont truly fix anything. Reparations can continue to help pay a mortgage or rent, can help pay taxes or pay tuition, but by no means will money ever repair a family. Reparations do not mean a family is no longer full of resentment, “payees are not called upon to forgive, not being pressed to forgo resentment.”

In Chapter 4 Spelman discusses “restorative justice” opposed to “retributive justice”. Restorative justice is supposed to be a system in which the victim, offender and community are supposed to work together to repair. But doesn’t this kind of repair seems silly. Sure, for a small offense restorative justice may be a nice solution, a way to better society. Spelman forgets to examine crime on a larger scale.  A family that lost someone in the 9/11 attacks is not going to sit down with a member of al-Qaeda to discuss “repair”. Parents of school shooting victims aren’t going to sit down with the shooter and think “how will we fix this, and how should you be punished.” A holocaust survivor would not aren’t going to sit down with the Nazis to discuss repair in Europe. Grieving families are not likely to have any sympathy for people who perpetrate terror on this nation or any other. Criminals should continue to be punished as they are, to be out of the public and remain disconnected from society. The country should not attempt to reintegrate these killers into society. Reintegration of criminals is a “slap in the face” to victims and families suffering from the damage that they have caused.

So what is the solution? How do we fix thing so detrimental to our society. Money can obviously facilitate lives, but it is not the solution. Apologies do show vulnerability but its not a solution when innocent lives have been taken. The only solution that I believe is appropriate is to have criminals spend the rest of their lives in jail. The criminal must not be apart of the community, they must be punished and far away from the victims. The community must attempt repair and move on.

Repairing a Broken World

Damage is inevitable within society, therefore repair is always necessary. Sometimes repair happens without us even knowing, other times repair is a long and complicated process.  In Elizabeth Spelmans, Repair, she introduces us to various types of repair. She discusses repair on cars, on relationships, and within the human body. However, repair can be present in almost any circumstance. The question is does it always work. Can a country repair itself after a horrific tragedy? Can a person mend a broken heart after losing a loved one? Is it possible to rebuild something that had once fallen?

“The twin towers can neither be repaired nor restored, but as the president of the Historic Districts Council of New York City sees it, whatever is done at the site ‘must reweave the damaged threads of fabric that terrorism sought to tear apart, and create a sense of place that fills the void and honors the losses of September 11.”

9/11 came as a shock to Americans. Our nation trembled with disbelief as we saw the news across our televisions, trembled with fear as the Twin Towers collapsed, trembled with grief hearing about the amount of innocent lives taken. However, our nation was united, ready to reclaim and repair our faltering freedom.

In the first chapter, Spelman describes the synonyms for repair, she explains that the synonyms do not truly all share the same meaning. The twin towers were not physically repaired after the attacks, but the Freedom Tower was reconstructed at the site of the attack to honor all the lives lost. Firefighters, police officers and people who rushed to the scene to help went through both physical and mental rehabilitation after the attacks. George W. Bush attempted to restore order within this trembling nation.

We live in “ a culture sustained by the faith that there are technical fixes for all human ills.” Death is one of those ills that is unable to be corrected with a technical fix. Everyone copes with death differently, therefore it is impossible to immediately rectify an attack like this. We cannot think of repair as only using tools, we cannot think of repair as something that should be done quickly. “We humans don’t just live in a world of breakables, we are breakables, our bodies and souls by their very nature subject to fracture and fissure.” Fifteen years may seem like an adequate amount of time to repair oneself, but sometimes repair is impossible.

The attack of September 11th occurred when I was only three years old. Although my young age has restricted me from remembering the exact details of that tragic day, it had a profound and everlasting effect on the town of Floral Park. Floral Park is a mere 17 miles from where the towers once stood. The towers were once visible from the windows of Floral Park Memorial High School, but on 9/11 only two streams of smoke appeared. Uncertainty filled the halls, as teachers and students heard the news unfold. Our teachers told us how they stood and watched the towers collapse from their windows. Some of the most respected firefighters and policemen of Floral Park rushed to the city to join in the rescue efforts. On the day that still haunts our great nation, the town of Floral Park lost parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. Almost fifteen years after the attacks we have rebuilt our nation, we are secure, we are advanced and we are prepared. The sights at ground zero can still bring chills to any American standing there, but we have overcome the unthinkable. And although repair has not been easy, we have one symbol that truly represents our strength. The Freedom Tower is built upon the rubbles of 9/11, but more importantly it is built on the grounds that once felt heartache, anger and devastation.