“He spoke in broken English, but we finally got around to understanding what he was trying to say.”

I’m sure you’ve said something like that before. We use the word “broken” to describe someone’s capacity for language. I think this is so interesting.

Implicit in this description is this idea: When we present our broken words to the world, we are giving the chance to others to repair us, to fix us, to heal us. We are presenting vulnerability in the hopes that another will show kindness and understanding. When we speak in broken words, two people have to transcend the limitations of a particular language by way of gestures, tone, and lots of patience. It can be frustrating but it is so human in its beauty. When we don’t make that extra effort to understand, we leave the individual with their fractured language broken.

There’s a Japanese art called kintsugi that takes broken pottery and repairs it using gold. The art is driven by a philosophy that breakage and repair are essential to the story of an object and that we shouldn’t just hide this vulnerable past.

The same goes for people. We shouldn’t hide our brokenness, we should repair each other with gold. Maybe when we are truly embracing the Golden Rule, we are practicing the art of kintsugi with people.

To be broken implies the possibility of repair. We all have the chance to engage in the beauty of reconstruction. Will you try?

Originally published on

Like what you read? Give Daniel Nesbit a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.