The Broken Pieces

Savannah Gallagher

English 110

Repair P1

October 3, 2016

As my eyes glanced down at the last few words of Spelman’s Repair, I was left with a strange feeling. After reading the whole book, it was one line in the final chapter that changed my perception of the entire composition. The concept of the book is that, as humans, we are constantly striving to fix all the broken aspects of our lives: tangible objects, relationships, people, society, anything and everything. However, the act of repair itself is destructive, as “repair destroys brokenness.” (134) As we go about our lives trying to fix these broken pieces along the way, we are actually just refusing to let go. The concept of something that was once good in our livesa new car, a friend, a possessionnot being what it used to be breaks us if we hold on too tightly. I am guilty. I am guilty of everything Spelman writes about concerning repair as preserving continuity with the past.

I seek sentimental value in many things in my life. Somehow, I manage to get emotionally attached to little things, whether they be objects or memories. A few months ago I was drinking tea out of a mug. It was not a fancy mug, but I had gotten it in Puerto Rico and it had an adorable orange crab on it. When I went to put the mug down, it was not fully on the counter surface and it fell. I watched it fall as if it were in slow motion, my heart beat a little out of my chest as I watched the mug shatter into many pieces. I was left with two options: throw away the pieces or save them and try to put them back together. I saved them. My first attempt to fix the mug was unsuccessful because I did not have the right type of glue; so to this day, the pieces of the mug sit in a little jar in my room for me to one day fix. The reality is, it is just a mug. In my kitchen I have tons of mugs: striped ones, greens ones, Hannah Montana ones, so there was no need for me to preserve this one. This was just a minor mishap in my life that happened until I read Repair. Spelman says, “Repair is about trying to preserve some kind of continuity with the past, with objects or relationships that already exist and have fallen prey to damage or decay.” (127) I reflected on this scenario and asked myself “Why?” Why did I save this mug and what was the sentimental attachment? I suppose it was because I got in on vacation or maybe the visual appeal with the crab. However, those are just excuses for me to try and put the pieces back together. In my mind I had made this object into something more than just a ceramic mold to drink out of. This mentality is one of the human faults as a Homo reparan.

 Everyone has heard, “Live in the moment, don’t look back in the past,” but this is sometimes easier said than done. Spelman writes, “…for while repair in one sense honors the past by paying homage to an earlier moment, in another sense it erases the past by undoing much of what in the meantime has happened.” (125) Sometimes we are so caught up trying to repair the broken aspects in our lives that we miss enjoying the desirable present things. As we let go of an old chapter to begin a new one, we spend much of our time dwelling on past memories as a result of that being such a wonderful time. Repairing our lives to go back to the way they once were prevents us from fully enjoying life. A way that I pay homage to earlier events in my life is by recording my daily life in a journal. Journals are ways of replication because people write as a way to alleviate their thoughts. Although we can never live the same moments twice, journals remind us of those moments and take us back to the past. Using writing as a tool to repair us on an emotional level allows us to stay in tune with the past and process any broken feelings.

A form of repair that Spelman does not specifically address is closure. Although she mentions apologies which are similar, closure is more for personal benefit. Spelman teaches us that it is not just tangible items that need repair, but sometimes human relationships. Closure is a way of repairing broken emotions within oneself. By seeking closure, humans mend their hurt feelings in an attempt to move forward. If we do not repair by closure, we cannot repair the past. Often times, receiving closure gives us internal peace of mind and puts to rest that agonizing feeling of something not feeling right.

My junior year of high I needed closure to repair my broken self. Although I had not broken a bone or anything physical, my heart felt more shattered than my crab mug. Internally I was so hurt by the action of another person that I could not have moved forward without settling these emotions. When Spelman talks about apologies to repair, she explains how two people must be involved for it to occur. No apology was going to fix how I felt, the only thing that could repair my feelings was to deal with it myself. No words, no matter how meaningful they were, would change what had happened. Closure is an important part of repairing because it is something that an individual needs to do for oneself.

Another way we are tied to the past is through tragedies. Tragedies stir up all different emotions from anger, to sadness, to disappointment. The emotions stick with us and are hard to get rid of because of the capacity of the event. Throughout Repair Spelman mentions the Holocaust and 9/11. Despite the fact that the Holocaust happened many years ago, it is frequently a topic of discussion. Why do we still choose to talk about an event in the past that not only broke but destroyed thousands of people and families? We are connected with this past event because those negative emotions have to be passed down to pay homage to the victims. 9/11 was a tragedy that happened in my lifetime. I live fifteen minutes from New York City and have a 9/11 memorial spot in my town. A destroyed piece of one of the twin towers sits right outside of my highschool by the door. Everyday as students walk in, they are constantly reminded of this awful thing that happened or they can choose to ignore it. Either way, it does not change the fact that fifteen years ago, all those lives were taken. Reality is, we cannot just move on from the things in the past that hurt. They will always impact our lives even if it is in ways we do not realize.

Somethings just cannot be repaired. Even when repair is attempted, it is still never the same from the original. Repairing the broken aspects in our lives prevents us from moving on.  Whether we preserve objects that we can simply replaces or are hanging on to overly nostalgic emotions, humans constantly are trying to reach a state of perfection. However, this perfection is unobtainable because every aspect of life eventually deteriorates.

 

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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?

The Broken Pieces

Savannah Gallagher

English 110

Repair r3

September 26, 2016

As my eyes glanced down at the last few words of Spelman’s Repair, I was left with a strange feeling. After reading the whole book, it was one line in the final chapter that changed my perception of the entire composition. The concept of the book is that as humans, we are constantly striving to fix all the broken aspects of our lives: tangible objects, relationships, people, society, anything and everything. However, the act of repair itself is destructive, as “repair destroys brokenness.” (134) As we go about our lives trying to fix these broken pieces along the way, we are actually just refusing to let go. The concept of something that was once good in our livesa new car, a friend, a possessionnot being what it used to be breaks us if we hold on too tightly. I am guilty. I am guilty of everything Spelman writes about concerning repair as preserving continuity with the past.

I seek sentimental value in many things in my life. Somehow, I manage to get emotionally attached to little things, whether they be objects or memories. A few months ago I was drinking tea out of a mug. It was not a fancy mug, but I had gotten it in Puerto Rico and it had an adorable orange crab on it. When I went to put the mug down, it was not fully on the counter surface and it fell. I watched it fall as if it were in slow motion, my heart beat a little out of my chest as I watched the mug shatter into many pieces. I was left with two options: throw away the pieces or save them and try to put them back together. I saved them. My first attempt to fix the mug was unsuccessful because I did not have the right type of glue. So to this day, the pieces of the mug sit in a little jar in my room for me to one day fix. The reality is, it is just a mug. In my kitchen I have tons of mugs: striped ones, greens ones, Hannah Montana ones, so there was no need for me to preserve this one.

Everyone has heard, “Live in the moment, don’t look back in the past,” but this is sometimes easier said than done. Spelman writes, “…for while repair in one sense honors the past by paying homage to an earlier moment, in another sense it erases the past by undoing much of what in the meantime has happened.” (125) Sometimes we are so caught up trying to repair the broken aspects in our lives that we miss enjoying the desirable present things. As we let go of an old chapter to begin a new one in our lives, we spend much of our time dwelling on the past memories as a result of that being such a wonderful time. Repairing our lives to go back to the way they once were prevents us from fully enjoying life.

A form of repair that Spelman does not specifically address is closure. Although she mentions apologies which are similar, closure is more for personal benefit. Spelman teaches us that it is not just tangible items that need repair, but sometimes human relationships. Closure is a way of repairing broken emotions within oneself. By seeking closure, humans mend their hurt feelings in an attempt to move forward. If we do not repair by closure, we cannot repair the past. Often times, receiving closure gives us internal peace of mind and puts to rest that agonizing feeling of something not feeling right.

Repairing the broken aspects in our lives prevents us from moving on. Whether we preserve objects that we can simply replaces or are hanging on to overly nostalgic emotions, humans constantly are trying to reach a state of perfection. However, this perfection is unobtainable because every aspect of life eventually deteriorates.

Restorative Justice vs. Capital Punishment (r2)

    ‘Restorative justice’ isn’t only about fixing the flaws and making up for the imperfections in existing legal institutions; it’s about putting the repair of victims, offender, and the communities of which they are a part at the center of justice (pg 51).

The definition of restorative justice is a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large. Spelman sees it as repairing the offenders by bringing the victims and communities into the justice system. Restorative justice is one end of justice, and the other end is Capital punishment. The death penalty has been a big debate in the United States. Thirty states still have the death penalty, and twenty have abolished it. On August 2, 2016, the Delaware Supreme Court decided that the state’s capital sentencing procedures were unconstitutional. This is a fresh issue in the United States. The capital punishment decides to put someone guilty to death, which is completely against what restorative justice stands for. Instead of rehabilitating a prisoner, they are not given a chance to change. But could capital punishment be a part of restorative justice?

The restorative justice approach not only hopes to bring attention to the multiple locations of the wound inflicted by a criminal act; it aims to involve all those affected by the act in the work necessary to carry out the appropriate repairs (pg 59).

Repairing the victim is a part of restorative justice. If the capital punishment of the offender helps the victim repair themselves, is it worth it for the justice system to take away the rehabilitation of the offender? I believe that justice should have the victim in their best interest, even if it doesn’t always work that way. States that have abolished the capital punishment see it as unconstitutional, but it could be unconstitutional to take a victims way of repair away.

Rips should be mended in such a way to suggest that they never were there in the first place. But in the eyes of some of the critics of restorative justice, democracy is not about efficiency, harmony, and homogeneity and should not tolerate attempts to cover over the history of conflict (pg 76).

Democracies should have their citizens in their best interest because it is a system of government by the whole population. Capital punishment can be seen as covering up a crime, and doesn’t bring the population any conflict resolution in history. The capital punishment may only bring resolution to the victim. The victim should have more rights in this situation, but the offender is still a citizen in this democracy. As more states abolish capital punishment, restorative justice is growing stronger. Restorative justice could become the only justice left.

Repair and Justice

In chapter four of Elizabeth Spelman’s Repair, Spelman goes very in depth on issues in the justice system it’s ties to the repair of human beings. Spelman spends a great deal discussing the similarities and differences between retributive and restorative justice, but ultimately the reader gets no real answer to what can bring absolute justice, both to the perpetrator and the victim. The justice system in our country is arguably the most flawed; as Spelman points out:

the existing criminal justice system pays almost no attention—or the wrong kind of attention—to the victims, pays only lip service to the damage done to the community, and has abandoned any thought of punishment as reparative for the offender—in fact, it tends to treat offenders as unsalvageable or not worth repair(Spelman 54).

While the whole purpose of our justice system is to bring about repair, in the end all sides stay shattered. The victim is simply supposed to remain happy with the fact that he who is responsible is being punished, and the community is left with “rips and tears in the social fabric”(Spelman 55). Even if a victim is compensated for whatever damage was caused to him/her but the victim will most definitely feel like they no longer command what happens in their own life, and will possibly be unable to fully immerse themselves in whatever community they were originally a part of. Spelman makes a very interesting observation of the mindset of one who suffers from a crime:

The victim may well feel that the state is more interested in creating its own version of how she was wounded than in hers, that she has become in effect a vehicle by which the state reaffirms its own authority and power rather than the real focus of the state’s concern(Spelman 57).

On top of the state manipulating the victim to fit it’s own needs to create the illusion of justice, it victimizes the offender in it’s own way and the offender is intrinsically left in a state of unrepair. Rather than recognizing some of society’s underlying causes for many of these crimes, the state’s answer is just to punish every individual and further remove them from a circumstance of repair. Often times once one serves their time and is “corrected” they cannot find any sort of career and are simply neglected by society, often causing them become outcasts or return to a life of crime. It is odd how those who commit crimes with mental disabilities are often sympathized with because they didn’t necessarily have complete control over their own actions, yet we are all markedly products of our own environment, and those who come from a torn apart environment are still demonized. Spelman did point out earlier that the home is our place of repair, but what happens when one’s home is innately damaging? Spelman ends the chapter on a very provocative note tying in the types of repair to the repair of humans.

It doesn’t matter to Willie or his customers what the repaired car looks like or how much Willie might alter the original design; Fred is not allowed to fiddle in any way with the original design but there are no constraints on what he might do to the now pretty well rotten original parts, as long as whatever he does serves the aim of replicating a machine fresh off the factory floor. Louise and her co conservators, however, must keep their handiwork to an absolute minimum… The Newman painting has an integrity and identity as a Newman work of art that must be respected and would be destroyed by attempts to improve upon or rebuild the painting.

Spelman reveals how delicate the repair of human beings can be when comparing it to that of the conservator and contrasting it to the abstracted and unbound ways of the bricoleur and restorer. Although our vision of justice lies on the basis that every person should be treated equal, perhaps the Newman painting cannot be repaired the same way as the painting of another.