This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue, Happiness, & Self-Transcendence” 2017 Summer Seminar. Cabrini Pak is
a Teaching Fellow with the School of Business and Economics and a PhD candidate in Religion and Culture at the Catholic University of America. Valerie Wallace is Associate Director, Communications, for Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.
Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?
Cabrini Pak: I grew up all over the United States, having lived on the East and West Coasts, north and south.
VW: Tell me about your research.
CP: I am currently working on: integration of personal identity and ethical frameworks in context shifts, particularly for military service members; the role of transcendence in resilient American POWs; moral conflict, ambiguity, and injury; suicide; spiritual resilience; transcendence as experiential process rather than as “event” or “state of being.”
The “Why”: The human person in the 21st century world is often reduced to individualistic jumbles of needs and wants (material and immaterial), which the global marketplace then feeds from & caters to. This creates a rather pernicious feedback loop that ultimately results in the objectification of the human experience and human beings, individually and in groups. Exacerbating this problem is the disturbing rise of human trafficking (especially women and children) to fortify industrial supply chains that really just feed the vices.
I hope that my research can help recover a more holistic understanding of human flourishing, individually and in groups. Deeper conversations about human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity, and a “common good” need to return to the public square. Time-space horizons can be stretched to include a telos that informs the activities we engage now and anticipate in the future. It goes back (for me) to integrating personal identity (which is social in nature) with ethical frameworks (which are cultural products).
VW: What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s seminar?
CP: I am really looking forward to just meeting people from different fields and hearing their stories, their thoughts on these topics. Very much looking forward to hearing what our speakers have to share, especially regarding what progress or shifts they have seen as the project itself unfolded.
VW: What are your non-academic interests?
CP: Seirenkai Karate (2nd Dan), photography, exploring the outdoors, and delving into the lives of the saints.