This student describes meeting her/his idol Peter Maass, who reported on the horrific crimes committed in Bosnia against the civilian population. This student finds the courage to ask a question that has been bothering her/him, questioning the journalist about his job, which is often spent watching people suffer and die. Despite people’s shock at the question, Maass explains that, as a journalist, he has to keep his distance from the action. Becoming involved in any way could compromise what is happening, as well as endanger his life and that of his crew. He explains that writing about horrific events can hopefully have a stronger impact than acting in the moment they are taking place. After these explanations, the student is satisfied and admires the man’s courage even more.
This student shows the impressive capacity to question authority and defend her/his intellectual inquiries. In asking a thought-provoking question, her/his goal is not to discredit the renowned journalist’s work, but to examine his work critically. Her/his question is not a personal attack but, rather, an opportunity for him to justify his actions morally and socially, and thus expose the deep complexity of his work. To everyone’s surprise, the student thus demonstrates that admiration and critical inquiry and can go hand-in-hand.