A Crack in the Foundation

        There is no feeling quite like building something with your own two hands although repair is not strictly limited to fixing what is physically broken, but also filling in gaps where something is missing. In Elizabeth Spelman’s Repair: The Impulse to Restore, she provides many excellent examples and anecdotes of the different forms of repair. As a college student, I realize that throughout my lifetime I’ve done a decent amount of repairs from mending damaged friendships to even have changed a flat tire or two. On the first page of the book, Spelman says “our bodies and souls are also by their very nature subject to fracture and fissure” (Spelman 1). With this in mind, I am certain that my biggest repairs are still ahead of me, which is why I must first repair myself in order to face the trials waiting for me down the road of my life.  

      Growing up as the younger sibling, I have had my fair share of feeling like second best. From losing in races we would run around the house, to each year having my teachers asking if I was Alex’s, their favorite student’s sister, my ego was in a state of disrepair. This feeling of never quite being as successful as him manifested itself in me physically. I ate away my feelings of resentment. It was not until the summer before I began middle school that my new reality caught up with me. Although often times we wish to repair something the instant it is broken, I did not fully realize my state of disrepair until I noticed my brother’s disrepair. His perfect facade was crumbling, and with it came diagnoses. As I watched my seemingly perfect older brother struggle and start the slow process of his own repair, I found my drive. Although this repair was not out of necessity, it was fueled by my natural instinct as an H. Reparan to make a change for the better. As Spelman says in the book, “to repair is to acknowledge and respond to the fracturability of the world in which we live” (Spelman 5). That summer I made my first major self repair.

      My first major self repair both served as a moment of restoring my personal health in addition to inhibiting me to be able to make further repairs in the future. Each repair is like mending a crack in the wall of a house. Sometimes, only a little bit of plaster is needed, while in other instances a section of the wall may need more extensive fixes. By putting forth the effort to repair the wall rather than allow it to come crashing down, we set ourselves up for an easier, more manageable fix in the future. Growing and personally improving ourselves rather than melting under the pressure not only improves our current situations, but also further down the roads of our life.


A Glimpse of Truth

Saying “I’m sorry” is easy, but actually meaning it is another story. In certain circumstances, saying “I’m sorry” is about as useful as using a band-aid to patch up a bullet hole.  In Elizabeth Spelman’s Repair: The Impulse to Restore, she brings to our attention a similar futile attempt by The United States Government to make amends for atrocious deeds committed many decades past. She uses a speech President Bill Clinton gave in 1996 in an attempt to make amends for atrocities he personally had no involvement in as an example.  It is clear that Spelman views an adequate apology as one that not only admits regret of the occurrence, but also owns up to the mistakes made. She straightforwardly states that an “apology is more about the wrongdoer than it is about the wrong done and the person whom the wrong was done,” bringing to light the true nature of apologies (Spelman 96).  In order to properly apologize, one must also actively seek to make reparations. When excuses are made, the process of repair is halted.

My older brother and I have had our fair share of squabbles while growing up, particularly due to our closeness of age. Each time our parents punished us for our misbehavior, we were taught to not only apologize, but to mean it. We were taught that true apologies are not conditional. We were to make an active effort to repair our relationship to one another, rather than uttering a reluctant apology following an incident. When we impose conditions in place of reparatory actions, rather than healing the situation, we are more times than not adding insult to injury. An apology is more than merely reciting an emotionless and oftentimes stale saying. An apology is legitimate when only we make strides to repair the relationship that we may have damaged or broken. Taking legitimate responsibility for our mistakes not only shows those we have hurt that we are truly sorry, but also allows us to reflect on our mistakes and work to make better decisions in the future. Legitimate apologies enable us to work to better improve our relationships with others and with ourselves.

Although the President’s apology for the atrocities committed towards the African American community came decades after the incidents, his genuine understanding of the United State’s transgressions enabled a long-awaited process of healing to begin. However, this apology serves as only the beginning for the reparations needed to be made in order to even begin to compensate for the inhumane actions of decades past. We all make mistakes from time to time, but it is how we choose to move forward is the key to avoid replication of the past.

Repairs Through Time (R1)

Olivia Daniels

     Whether it be everyday wear and tear, or a sudden accident, things break. This can be applied to both inanimate objects or personal relationships. In Elizabeth Spelman’s Repair: The Impulse to Restore, she touches on many of the different forms of repair that we as Homo Reparans must assess whether or not are necessary in any given post breaking point scenario. Repair appears in many forms ranging from mending a flat tire, to preserving a centuries old painting, to even giving a loved one a second chance after they may have wronged you. Although the word seems so straight forward, it serves multiple purposes.

     Everyday, whether it be intentional or not, we make repairs. Whether someone is in a bad mood and snaps at a friend or they accidentally broke their phone’s charging cord, there is an almost intuitive notion to mend rather than immediately replace. Spelman accurately depicts the nature of humanity, humans who with every pitfall are faced with an internal conflict of forging a new path, or accepting defeat and giving up. Spelman demonstrates this side of human nature saying, “H. Reparans also can be found wondering whether sometimes it isn’t the better part of wisdom to leave the flaws, the fragments, the ruins, alone” (Spelman 3). At every turn, humans are presented with the opportunity to make personal improvements. These improvements are made when an individual chooses to fix a flaw. However, due to human nature, people sometimes do not take every opportunity that they are given to improve. If people were to never seize the opportunity to fix flaws and improve imperfections, they would be static; perpetually stuck in the past. Technology, relationships, and household objects alike would suffer consequences without this constant desire to repair. Without repair, there would be no adaptations and no improvements to be made.

     Bigger, brighter, and better. Since the beginning of time, the movement of technology has been streamlined. Widely ranging from the discovery of the wheel, to the invention of modern automobile, to the smaller technical tweaking of the shrinking nature of the computer chip, updates and improvements have been made. This forward motion is similar for humans. Due to entropy, the world is in a perpetual state of chaos and it is the duty of Homo Reparans to stop this constant state of decay. By preventing everything from going to complete chaos, Homo Reperans evolve technologically and emotionally. Spelman alludes to Willie, a small town auto mechanic who constantly repurposes and augments the cars brought to his shop in disrepair. She uses this as an example of the ever progressive notion, citing that “Willie is able to redefine the fixability of objects” (12).  Without this inherent ability to build on our mistakes and refine pre-existing objections and relationships, humanity would live in a stagnant society, frozen in time. Due to the both active and inactive decisions humans make each day, humanity makes edits, improvements and amendments. Repair plays a decisive role in how humanity functions. The ability to seek out ways to resolve predicaments humanity is faced with proves that repair is ingrained in Homo Sapiens.

     The word repair itself is as complicated a word with as many definitions as humanity allows. Although it originated thousands of years ago, the meaning has remained the same. From repair’s latin roots reparare, re means back, and parare means to make ready. Essentially, meaning to repair something means to make it ready again. Additionally, not even humans are immune to needing repair due to the human condition that people are all flawed. The unchanging literal definition applies to everyone and everything, and dictates the ebb and flow of the universe itself.