Throughout chapter 3 of her book Repair: The Impulse to Restore in a Fragile World, Elizabeth Spelman examines the differences between males and females in regards to repairing, as well as discussing the enablement of the human mind and body to repair itself. The latter of those two ideas, in my opinion, is the most delicate topic so far throughout her book and the one that I can connect to the most.
Let’s face it. We as American’s simply cannot be blind to the fact that although woman and men are finally considered “equal”, this is not the case. Politically, yes woman and men can do all the same things such as vote, own a job, etc. However, if we dissect this further, not everything is true and settled. Men working the same exact job as a woman are still getting paid more than them, and gender bias’s in the workplace are still alive and well. It is 2016. Why is this still the case. Is it because bosses feel a more masculine worker would be better suited for a position rather than a female? No matter the bias, it has no place in today’s equal society where you grow up with the American Dream that you can do anything you put your mind too.
Using Spelman’s example, Willie the Mechanic, and Louise/Irene and Elisabeth the art restorers, it shows the distinction of jobs still existing today. Who says that Willie couldn’t be the art restorer, or that the three woman could not open up their own mechanic shop? But then again, would a lot of males trust a women repairing his car or would they trust a masculine man? Reiterating on the point that the general bias of jobs in our society still exists and it should change, but will it ever? From the words of the author herself,
Should we expect there to be a division of the labor of repair, just as we find such division historically in almost every other human labor-are some groups or ‘types’ of people assigned certain kinds of tasks, other such groups assigned others?
Like all living things in this world, the human body must be fed, watered, as well as cared for in order to stay healthy and alive. But this applies mainly to the overall health of the body itself, not the mind and spirit. Spelman chooses the phrase “eternal mending” to describe the repair of the mind and spirit. She begins to give examples of events that require “eternal mending”, such as the death of a grandmother or the death of a goldfish. I find this specific topic very relatable to the fact that I have lost some people in my life and she describes the process with such precision that I can really connect with what he is saying.
Growing up in a small tight-knit community, everybody knew everybody and rumors spread like a California wildfire. When I first caught wind of my friend Bobby Taggart having cancer, I thought it couldn’t be true. An awesome, kind hearted kid whose passion for baseball like mine, was exponential. Living only a few minutes from my house but in the neighboring little league, we played each other our entire childhood. We finally got the chance to play with each other in middle school in travel ball and with the help of his flawless right arm, he pitched our team to our first championship. Being the fighter that he was, he went through remission four times before sadly losing his battle with cancer last November. The news of his passing really hit not just me hard, but the community as a whole. Adapting the ‘Team Taggart’ motto, his foundation grew and grew, to the point where Villanova’s Jay Wright and Final Four MVP Ryan Arcidiacono had hopped on board. His positive attitude rubbed off on everyone he came in contact with and he still is missed every single day.
Bobby’s death was one of the first moments in my life where I looked myself in the mirror and just felt sort of empty and in the needed of a repair. How could an awful disease take away such a joyous and full-of-life kid? I was one of many who needed to be eternally mended, not knowing how to overcome the pain I felt inside. I think Spelman perfectly crafts her words by saying,
And then there is the repair necessitated by the steady flow of crises arising from the vulnerability of the human heart and from the fragility of the web of human relationships.
Those human relationships that she talks about really are so powerful but can be so utterly fragile. The steady flow of crises that she talks about are happening all throughout our life and can be very sudden, meaning our minds need to sometimes repair “on the fly”. But sometimes, these repairs take a lot more time than we think. And sometimes, we never truly can repair from some events that take place in our lives.
Our species is truly the most diverse in all of the world because we have the ability to form relationships and interact in ways that nothing else can. When these relationships are sometimes suddenly cut off, we can feel a sort of loneliness or like were floating down to the bottom of a never ending abyss. It’s at that point that we ask ourselves, can we be repaired?
When I first got this book, I was unsure what it was about and what I would be getting into. The title, at first, was quite vague and I was unsure of the meaning of it. But after working with the text for two weeks, it hit me. The world itself really is fragile, both physically and mentally. Physically, we have polar ice caps melting from global warming, rainforests being chopped down in favor of new landscape and property, as well oceans being littered with trash. But mentally, that is where we find the most fragility. In this day and age, we see it all over the news as if it’s almost an uncommon event: shootings and terrorist attacks. These attacks on our lives, community, and country always leave us wondering, how can we repair as a nation and come back stronger? We find the courage and strength from within and with each other to repair together and return to a stronger, more solidified group. The impulse to restore all of this is there for many of us, but what can one individual do to repair such monstrosities?
Spelman’s analogy between humans and cars was one that really caught my eye. She talks about how like cars, “human beings suffer wear and tear”. I completely agree with that because we go through rough patches in our life suffering injuries, breaking friendships or relationships, as well as other difficulties. At some points, we just feel completely broken. But like the car when its worn down, we can be repaired. And once repaired, there is no true limit on what we can do next.
Furthermore, Spelman examines how that “Repairing a hip so that someone can walk again might under some conditions get in the way of repairing it so the person can run”. I particularly like this line because with some repairs, it may repair one asset of what was broken, but cannot totally restore the broken object back to its normal functionality. That, in many cases, can be one of the fears once being or feeling broken. That whatever was broken will not be totally restored back to normal. But that is the consequence that must be faced. In life, many things will be broken both physically and mentally. And the way we choose to repair could greatly affect us for the rest of our life. That is why we must take it upon ourselves to take the process head on and not look back on what was before, but to move on to a better, more repaired future.