A Genuine Apology

What is an apology? When thinking of an apology, it is more than likely that the words “I’m sorry” come to mind. Those two words become a compensation for what is thought to need an apology. But the fact is that an apology is much more than those two simple words. Our generation has many misconceptions of a genuine apology. In fact, we often lack the ability to be genuine in general. Apologies have also become less significant because of how often they are said. Think of how many times a day you apologize for something that does not require one. “That was my last stick of gum, sorry.” “No, I do not have an extra pencil, I’m sorry.” “Sorry, I won’t be able to come out with you tonight, I have an exam in the morning.” The fact that apologies are so often used, unnecessarily, forces them to become meaningless. For this reason, it is incredibly difficult to decipher a genuine apology from one that is inauthentic.

To apologize to someone is to say that there is a harm worth attending to, a relationship worth mending, a rule worth honoring, a community worth preserving. (83)

To apologize is to acknowledge harm. When a person apologizes, they are to become completely vulnerable to the recipient of the apology. They are to express guilt, remorse, and sincerity, to feel just as vulnerable as the other person had when the harm was done. An “I’m sorry,” is never a sufficient apology because it lacks the true emotions for the apology to become meaningful. Once an apology is given, the recipient has both the right to accept and agree to repair what has been broken or to decline the apology and to leave what has been broken undone. “Human relationships are such that they can be broken by one party but can’t be repaired without both parties” (86). Repairing what has been broken requires both an apology and forgiveness. On page 85, Spellman uses a brilliant analogy, “…[an apology is] an invitation to share in a ritual of repair, in a dance that takes more than one dancer.” Most believe that repairing the harm done to a relationship only requires the forgiveness of the one to whom the apology is offered. In reality, it is both people that are necessary for repair. As said before, the apologizer must recite a proper apology acknowledging wrongdoings and displaying sincere emotions. Therefore, if an apology is dishonest and apathetic the apologizer has failed his/her task in beginning a repair.

Chapter five of Repair, Spellman has allowed me to come to several realizations about the true meaning of an apology. We so often take for granted what an apology is and what they are intended to do. Apologies are not just words spoken that automatically achieve forgiveness, nor should they be used as casually as we do today. I can recall a time when I was in an argument with my closest friend, Jess. She had expressed her discontent with the way I had been acting recently; I was becoming very selfish and inconsiderate of her feelings. Jess and I have been best friends for over seven years. We have become much closer than friends, I see her as a sister. I was extremely blindsided, hurt, and remorseful that I had ever made her feel such a way. We had gone three days without speaking, which has never happened. During those lengthy three days I had time to contemplate and take responsibility for my actions. I knew that my apology to her had to be sincere and honest if I ever wanted to repair our friendship. After the third day, I apologized to Jess with deep sorrow and regret, I spoke true to my feelings and genuinely believed in what I had said. When reading Repair, Spellman made me realize why Jess and I are still close friends. I was able to connect her analogies of two people dancing to this exact situation. It made me realize all of my apologies should be as true as the one I gave to Jess. After all, how can you forgive someone if you know they do not mean it?

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Amendments Are Only Made Through Reparitive Justice

You start your day as any usual Sunday; you travel down two blocks to the mini mart to buy a coffee and the local paper. Today, the cover story hits you more than usual. “Local Teen Murdered at Gas Station.” As you continue to read the article you realize the young 18-year-old man was studious, always pleasant, and worked long hours to help support his mother and six siblings at home. Why, then, was he fatally beaten by gang members with a gas pump? Imagine yourself as the mother of that child. You see him in the morning, give him a kiss goodbye, and wish him a great day expecting that you will see him once again. Then while making dinner you receive a phone call. The words that come out of the officer’s mouth linger. You feel your heart sink and everything in you is telling you “this can’t be true.” My abuela went through something unimaginable, something no parent should ever have to. That young 18-year-old man was her son, my uncle, Jose Arce. When I was of age my mother explained to me what had happened to the uncle I was never able to meet. She told me the screams and cries that came from my abuela were ones that are permanently imprinted in her brain. The case was taken to trial and the jury found a short sentence of ten years to be sufficient for the murder. My mom expressed the deep resentment the entire family contained for the defendant. TEN years? Ten years was supposed to give my family closure. Ten years was supposed to compensate for the innocent life lost and for the pain endured by anyone who was associated with Jose. The justice system had failed us, as it does many.

When someone is penalized for a crime they commit, do they fully understand to what degree their crime has impacted the victim or the community? Our justice system, in so many ways, fails to give amends to the victims of wrongdoing. Once again, Spellman raises significant points in chapter four of Repair. She speaks about the differences between reparative justice and retributive justice. Our country practices retributive justice. In this case, a third party with no association to the victim or defendant decides how/if if the offender is punished. With retributive justice, “…offenders don’t have to confront the consequences for the victim…” (Spellman. 56). Victims are left with emotional and/or physical scars. Reparative justice is, in my opinion, the most significant way for an offender to come to terms with his crime. Spellman writes, “The idea is not so much making the punishment proportional to the crime but doing repairs appropriate to the various harms inflicted“ (Spellman. 65). Reparative justice forces the offender to acknowledge what she has done. She has to repair the broken souls and bodies of the community and victim.

Speaking for my abuela, I don’t think anything could condemn the pain of losing a child. Even so, I feel that reparative justice would have done much more for my family. Speaking one on one with the defendant, asking him why he had taken an innocent life, might have given some closure to my family. In this country, anyone who commits a crime expects to go to prison if they are caught and convicted. What if they were forced to come to realizations about their crimes, forced to realize how a simple action had such an enormous impact on several lives. Think about how hard it is to apologize to someone when you are the wrongdoer. Even if you not know the victim well, you still have deep feelings of sorrow and regret for what you have done. It would be naive to think every offender will be regretful of their decisions, but put yourself in the victims’ shoes. Would you rather force your wrongdoer to acknowledge their crimes, or have several people you don’t know form an “appropriate punishment”?

The Stereotypes of Women and Repair

Sarah Kerik

Joe Harris

English 110

12 September 2016

Stereotypical and sexist views of society suggest that men are superior to women, sex determines the capability that a person has. Women are unable to complete the same tasks as men, they cannot perform as quick or as well. Women are cooks, maids, and mediators to restore relationships. Women cannot provide for their families, they unsure how to fix a drain or change a tire. These ideas currently exist throughout the world, they are incorrect and need to be diminished. Spellman speaks a great deal about the expectations, or lack thereof, of women throughout chapter three. She uses the term “domestic femininity” to describe the “common belief” that the sole purpose of women is to be repairers of relationships. In chapter three of Repair, Spellman quotes this excerpt;

“The fact is not that women don’t have to be unhandy. They are not inherently nonmechanical; they have been educationally deprived by their society and then trained to believe that their aptitude is low. What is most needed is authoritative assurance that ‘educationally deprived’ does not mean ‘uneducable,’ and that, in general, the business of making repairs is far easier than most women believe” (Spellman.28).

Spellman is trying to explain that women are not incapable of accomplishing “masculine”/objective repairs. It is society that forces women to believe that they are incapable. We need to reassure women that they have the ability to perform a number of things. A common example of this educational deprivation is found in sports. Have you ever heard the phrase, “You (throw, kick, run, etc.) like a girl?” The phrase is often used negatively in order to ridicule the person that is completing the task. Why is performing something “like a girl” so offensive? People often associate women with not wanting to get their hands dirty. They think women/girls run strangely, cannot through a ball far, or are constantly worried about their hair and nails during activities. Women are raised to believe that they are inferior when participating in sports as well as, like Spellman says, repairing objects.

I believe that the themes expressed in this section of the book are extremely relevant to American society. There are several instances that reveal that, as a whole, our society believes in the superiority of men. One example is the difference in pay between men and women in the same career fields. A full-time female worker makes 79 cents to every dollar a male makes. The female worker and the male worker have the same education, but in our society, a person’s sex determines the effectiveness of their work. Today, women are viewed more as sexual beings and “home-makers,” they are judged on their appearance rather than their intelligence and accomplishments. Through television, magazines, and social media women are taught that they are supposed to “keep up” with their appearance; nails manicured, hair neat, and makeup flawless. When there is a problem that involves using your hands, women are to call a man for help. Although these biases still exist, we are becoming less ignorant are realizing our flaws as a community. For example, old Disney princesses would often need a prince to come to their rescue and save them from the trouble they were in. Now, Disney has reversed their perspectives and often shows “true love” as a relationship with familiy members or someone other than a prince.
I admire Spellman for acknowledging these stereotypical/sexist views in her story. She allows female readers to become aware that they are not incapable of any “objective” task, but that it is society that belittles them to believe so. Women are not unhandy or less superior to men, and I believe that as time goes on authors, like Spellman, will allow people to disregard these biases.