Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Gabby Damascus

English 110 

Seda 1

9/26/16

I traveled to Greece with my family for the first this summer and, being Greek, it was kind of  a big deal. We did all of the typical touristy things; went to museums, took a bus tour, bought a “Greek for Dummies” book, etc. But my favorite part, and what Greece is most famous for, and what attracts millions of people from all over the world, were the Ancient Ruins. My family and I toured the Acropolis in Athens, the Sanctuary of Asklipieo at Epidaurus, my brother and I hiked up the monuments in Mykines, we walked around the Temple of Zeus and the Archea Olympia, and, believe it or not, many more. And although truthfully, most of the stuff just looked like giant rocks to me, at every giant rock we saw, there were always people admiring their beauty and taking thousands of pictures. I didn’t realize it at first, but every giant rock we saw had a story behind it. Some were tributes to Gods, some had scenes carved into them that literally told you a story, a few were thank you presents, and some were sacred monasteries that people devoted their lives to. I began to see what attracted so many people to all of these giant rocks. The fact that they were able to survive thousands of years and still be standing is beautiful and inspiring. People worship and believe in these rocks and base all of their values and beliefs on the meaning behind these rocks. Despite all of the rocks brokenness and cracks people still only see beauty. They see back thousands of years ago to the people who devoted their lives to these works out of art, that are literally made out of dirt and clay, and turned it into something that can be admired by billions and last just as long.

In chapter 7 of Repair, Elizabeth Spellman talks about ruins and “the power against which the reparative impulse are in the case of ruins greeted without opposition and often with a passion which even has its own name: Ruinenlust,” (103-104). Despite all of the hardships of nature and war and life, ruins are still left, somewhat, standing. They’re able to forgive and continue to live their lives even though there are millions of things working against them and millions of poisons trying to destroy them. Spellman said that “ruins offer the inevitable reminder that finally we all come to the same end,” (107). In Spellman’s eyes, ruins represent the end and sadness and false hope, but I have to disagree. I think they do just the opposite. Yes all things come to an end, but why not look at the life they lived and admire everything they’ve accomplished in the years they did survive. For example a tombstone, even though a dead person is lying underneath it and although it’s not as pretty as the ancient ruins, it still tells a story. The tombstone represents the life of the person underneath it. And just like ruins, tombstones last a long time and they are often visited by many people, although normally under a sad circumstance, they still attract visitors and people who truly care about what they represent.

Spellman’s focus throughout the book has been on repair, what is repair, what should be repaired, should all things be repaired, can all things be repaired? We don’t really know; most of the time we blame our problems on society instead of owning up to our own mistakes because we’re not being brave enough to admit that we’re apart of the problem. But this one word has so many hidden definitions and secrets and it represents something different in every single person’s eyes. Some people see it as a good thing and others as bad, but it can be both. Repair can be related to so many different things aswell, whether its clothes, relationships, ancient ruins, cars, or humans, it affects everything in one way or another. Everything makes mistakes and it’s up to the person or object who made them to either own up to it or hide from it. Ancient ruins aren’t people, they can’t run away when life gets hard, they just have to face the consequences. Ruins have to combat millions of problems throughout their existence and although what doesn’t kill them doesn’t necessarily make them stronger, they still try. Similar to humans, people are faced with difficulties every single day and they can either ignore them or be willing to do something about them. Like Spellman says, life is a cycle between creation, destruction, and reparation. You must feel the power of destruction to be able to learn from your mistakes and repair them. Now when we see ancient ruins we see beauty, they represent war and death and love and so many other things. People worship and have been worshipping these structures for thousands of years despite their decaying facade. I know now that these giant rocks, are more than just giant rocks, to me they represent art and they are apart of who I am. They make me proud to be Greek because I know how hard my ancestors worked to create something they were so passionate about and that have touched so many people.

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Is it too late now to say sorry?

Gabby Damascus

English 110

9/19/16

Reparations, according to Elizabeth Spelman, means “never having to say you’re sorry.” When I first read that statement I was confused and was wondering under what circumstances would it be okay to never have to apologize for anything you do. But after I continued reading, Spelman made it clear to me that sometimes it would just be insulting to try to apologize for certain things. Spelman used the example of slavery; does saying I’m sorry now for destroying millions of black lives really have any meaning? And how can you apologize for something that happened a hundred years ago if it’s still happening today? Some people don’t understand that certain things cause too much pain and suffering to be able to just say sorry and then be forgiven.

In chapter 5 of Elizabeth Spelman’s, Repair, she discusses what it takes to make a sincere and honest apology that actually has meaning behind it. What I found most interesting about this chapter was the idea that an apology is more about the apologizer and not about the actual deed that was done. Past President  Bill Clinton can apologize for something that happened a long time ago and for something that he didn’t even do, but should it be accepted? The point of an apology is to be able to acknowledge your wrong doing and be able to accept that you made a mistake and want to fix it. According to Spelman:

“The very instrument with which I acknowledge wrongdoing establishes my credentials as right-learning, as knowing I’ve been off course, as already consulting the moral compass to assess and guide my behavior. The way I bring attention to the damage I’ve done already begins the work necessary to repair it. I don’t hide my wrong doing; I bring attentions to it. I don’t boast of it; I regret it. I recognize that I’m not the only occupant of the world: you count the rules by which we live count, the fabric of our society counts,” (96).

It doesn’t make sense for Bill Clinton to apologize for something he had nothing to do with. Although it helps to say he can assure that nothing like this will ever happen again, but like the point Spelman is trying to make throughout the book is that, we’re humans and for the rest of our existence we will make mistakes and we will have to pay for those mistakes.

All my life I have always apologized, even for things that weren’t my fault and that I knew weren’t my fault. In high school, someone would bump into me when I was walking through the halls and even though it was obviously their fault, I would still feel the need to apologize. Chapter 5 made me do a lot of thinking and reevaluating. I always thought that apologizing all the time was just the friendly or nice thing to do and the best way to avoid confrontation. But now I realize that if you apologize too much and if you apologize for stuff that you don’t need to apologize for, that when you actually make a mistake that requires an apology in order to move past your mistake, it has no meaning. If you say sorry all the time and for things that don’t require an apology then how is someone supposed to know if your apology is real or not and if you’re actually learning from your mistakes? The point of an apology is to be able to recognize that you messed up and that it was your fault and that you want to fix it.

Throughout the book, Spelman focuses each chapter on a different concept of repair. Chapter 5 was apology and what it really means to apologize and make it a genuine apology. Spelman shows the reader that sometimes it’s okay to not apologize for something even if it’s something really bad. Sometimes it’s better if things are just left unsaid, but sometimes you need to apologize. Every apology you make, as long as you truly mean it, is a form of repairing yourself. And similar to what Spelman says, you can learn a lot about a person from their apology. But if you apologize too much, the words “I’m sorry” begin to lose their meaning. The big question everyone is wondering about is whether or not we should apologize to black people for slavery. But sadly we can’t because it would have no meaning because racist incidents still continue to happen today. So whats the point of apologizing if we’re incapable of learning from the mistake. Spelman recognizes that in order to apologize and for it to mean something and for you to be able to learn from it, you have to be able to see that you made a mistake. If you can’t actually see what you did wrong then why apologize? 

R1

Gabby Damascus

English 110

9/12/16

     Everyone sees the world differently including the person standing right next to you. Repair, by Elizabeth Spelman, shows the reader how many different definitions or meanings one word, repair, can have to different people. What I found most interesting about the book was in chapter three of Repair. Spelman decides to focus on the word repair between men and women and how the world or societies norms have forced men and women to believe differently about repairing/fixing things. To men, repair means repairing a car or the tv, and although women are just as intelligent as men, women were educated to believe that they’re supposed to repair and mend relationships, clothes, etc. And women that decide to do what is normally considered a “man’s job,” make men feel threatened and are normally treated unfairly and inferior to the other men in the environment. On page 28, Spelman says, “what is most needed is authoritative assurance that ‘educationally deprived’ does not mean ‘uneducable.’” Women often feel like they are incapable of fixing cars or the plumbing, but it’s not because they physically can’t, it’s because they were never taught how. Women are always perceived as weaker than men, when in reality, they’re just as strong. While men are out working, women are home keeping the household running all day. And like Spelman says, a household in some ways is like an auto body shop, you need it to survive. Women are underestimated for the work that they do despite how important it is. Another job that is typically classified as a “woman’s job” is mending clothes. Men have relied on women for years to help patch up their clothes, especially in a military environment where having a tear in your shirt could potentially mean the difference between life and death. In one scene of the book, Spelman quotes Bruce Cassidy in saying, “Many a man in the military service has had to darn a sock at a crucial time. I never yet saw such a man pretend to know how to use a needle, and yet I’ve watched dozens in the barracks secretly stitching rips in their clothing when they thought no one else was looking. It may have taken them longer than a woman to repair their torn clothing, but they did it.” Men don’t realize the importance women are in their lives; women do so much for men all the time and are never given enough credit or appreciation for their hard work. In order to mend clothes, you need to use a needle which is a tool and should be considered manly, but it’s not because it’s small and delicate, like women are supposed to be. That’s why the men were ashamed to be fixing their clothes because in their minds it’s wrong that they even know how to do something as feminine as sewing. Spelman recognizes this rift in society between men and women that leave women feeling underappreciated and men ashamed when they do something that is seen as womanly. But Spelman not only recognizes the need for repair between just men and women but for all humans and for all of society and for many different reasons. Spelman sees that the world and humans are constantly in need of repair or improvement because we’re always changing yet we’re always making the same mistakes. Through the book Repair, Spelman helps people to recognize these faults in society and hopefully it inspires people to want to do something about them. I have enjoyed reading Repair so far, and after these first three chapters, I’m excited to see what else Spelman has to say.