Philosophy forum discusses responsibility to community

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

Guided by the famous words of Socrates–“The unexamined life is not worth living”–the U philosophy club wanted to give back to the community.

Under the direction of Brin Bon, club president and junior philosophy major, the philosophy club hosted a forum Wednesday night at Libby Gardner Hall, featuring six panelists from the Salt Lake community.

“We wanted to give back, and this was our way of giving back,” Bon said. “We want to engage people to want to act, and thinking about the issues is the first step.”

The panel comprised of former Salt Lake City mayor Ted Wilson, th Rev. Trace Browning from Rowland Hall Saint Marks, local artist Ruby Chacon, criminal defense attorney Ron Yengich, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham and the Honorable Judith S. H. Atherton of the Utah 3rd District.

Steve Ott, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, moderated the discussion.

Ott said, “I hope this is the beginning of the conversation (about community), not the end of it.”

Addressing questions from the audience, each panelist defined his or her idea of community–globally, nationally and in Salt Lake City.

Of a national community, Durham said, “Human growth and development can only reside in communities based on civility and respect, curiosity and an obligation to care.”

With regards to recent elections, Wilson said, “To build a new national community, we must go to the center,” focusing on issues like the war and health care.

Atherton said that the United States’ attitude that it is our obligation to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world is wrong. “We are so arrogant in the presumption that we are right,” she said. “We used to call it imperialism, I guess.”

Wilson said, “I think it’s better to feed human rights.”

Living as a Chicana in America, Chacon stressed living out of one’s comfort zone and addressing problems as a whole community.

“If there is a high Latino dropout rate, it is not a Latino problem, it is a societal problem,” Chacon said.

All panelists agreed that personally defining one’s role in the community and working for justice and change are vital to a strong community. Browning said people should “engage the world to work for justice.”

Yengich said, “If you let (people) make a definition of who you are, when you are the voice crying in the wilderness, you’re letting them define you–the struggle is for everyone to find out who they are, and then teach others.”

Sophomore philosophy major Derek Piatt said, “We need to get out there and get involved, meeting new people and getting different perspectives.”

While this was the first “What We Give Back” forum, the philosophy club hopes to make it a regular occurrence. The forum was also sponsored by the College of Humanities, Tanner Humanities Center, Hinckley Institute of Politics and ASUU.

The philosophy club meets every Thursday at 2 p.m. in the Tanner Library (OSH 334). Meetings usually include a speaker and discussion, and are open to anyone who is interested in attending.