The necessity of suffering

On Monday, Sept. 17, UVU hosted an ethics panel headlined by academics and professionals. Students filtered in and out of the event listening to the ensuing topic of discussion, which focused on one central idea: Is it necessary for one to suffer in order to make a positive change?

The panel, moderated by Jeffrey Nielsen, was held in conjunction with a screening of the documentary film “Love Hate Love” as part of the Ethics Awareness Week commemorating 25 years of the Interdisciplinary Ethics Program at UVU.

The film follows the stories of three different families from around the world, all victims of the most devastating terrorist attacks in recent history: the 9/11 attacks, the 2002 Bali bombings and the 7/7 London bombings in 2005. It documents the families’ stories as each seeks to overcome personal tragedy by building legacies of compassion and understanding.

Produced by Sean Penn and awarded the Official Selection at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, the documentary was co-directed by Dana Nachman, who participated in the panel.

Nachman said she hopes the influence of the film would be that people watch the film and think, “If these people can go through what they’ve been through and still try to make the world a better place, then we can all do that. And hopefully you don’t have to go through something nearly as traumatic to do that.”

The panel, in which Nachman was joined by professors Michael Minch, John Macfarlane, Wioleta Fedecsko and Michael Popich, continued with that idea. The three families in the film underwent tragic changes in their lives and became crusaders in pursuit of compassion in a different corner of the world. But in order to do the same, does an individual need to undergo such a heartbreaking event?

Kent Hinkson, a student studying social work and spanish, said he doesn’t believe so.

“Everybody wants to do something. I don’t think that suffering begets activism. There are many people throughout the world already doing these things. It’s an unfair dichotomy to say that it requires [tragedy] to have a sense of being able to do something for other people,” Hinkson said.

Hinkson is familiar with both terrorism and tragedy, having served in a counter-terrorism unit in Saudi Arabia and losing family to violence while living there.

“I think it’s important for people to find motivation in their life in whatever way they can,” Hinkson said.

In agreement was Michael Minch, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Peace and Justice Studies program at UVU, whose message for students was clear.

“You’re in college preparing for a career, why don’t you choose a career that’s meaningful?” he asked the audience. “There are a lot of things we don’t need. Why not commit yourself to making the world a more just and peaceful place?”

The panel concluded in agreement that suffering shouldn’t be necessary for action, but if it’s there, the best thing an individual can do is use it in a positive way.

More information on the film can be found on the website lovehatelovemovie.com of ktffilms.com. “Love Hate Love” can be viewed on snagfilms.com at no charge.

Alex Sousa is studying journalism in UVU’s communication department. He’s serving as the managing editor at the UVU Review as well as the editor of the music blog on uvureview.com. He’s had experience working as a freelance writer and also as a copy writer at a marketing agency. Currently he’s working as the Editor-in-chief of the Utah Tech Magazine, an interactive, digital publication. He’s a Utah native who’s traveled around the world; having lived in Mexico, backpacked through Europe, studied in the Middle East and—for a time—been stranded in the Ukraine. He can be found on Facebook and he’s available on Twitter @TwoFistedSousa or by email at aljosousa@gmail.com.

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