This semester I had the privilege of eating several meals at Sean’s home. Sean is employed locally and is married with three children. With me was Seth, Taylor, Alec, Brandon, Brent, Bradley and Andrew all of whom are college students varying in age and background. Seth is a entrepreneurship major from Lexington, Taylor is a civil engineer from London, Alec is a math major from Indianapolis, Brent is a Health Care Administration Major from Winchester, Bradley is a finance major from Louisville, and Andrew is a finance major from E-town.
The purpose of us meeting throughout this semester is all a part of Shawn’s ministry. He devotes a few hours out of his week to invest into young men in the WKU community to engage in conversation about leadership, fatherhood/manhood, and faith. I was hesitant at first to use this as my Kentucky Kitchen Table project, but I figured that the purpose of this project was to interject myself into an environment that stimulated conversation about my role in society. I believe that this opportunity did just that.
On many occasions I asked Sean specific questions about his role as a professional, father, and member of a community. Specifically, I was really curious about his role in his job and his balance between professional life and his role as a father and husband. I also asked questions that had to deal with how he reacted to problems in his work environment, where he may have had a specific vision about a solution to a problem but one of his coworkers had a conflicting vision. Many of our conversations quickly led into examples of how he had approached an issue that had risen in the past and how he handled it as well as how he could’ve handled it better.
His solution to many of these problems was very simple. He continually talked about the existence of boundaries within relationships, both professional and personal. Personally, we need to have boundaries with those close to us. We have to recognize the things that we own and the things that we don’t. We own our time, we own our feelings and emotions, but we don’t own other people’s feelings and emotions. Likewise, with professional relationships there needs to be boundaries that funnel interactions towards a more productive and goal oriented environment.
This separation, in my opinion, can easily be applied to some of the central ideas of this class. When we can separate ourselves as individuals first and foremost and then recognize our role in society, I think that we can begin to make a difference on small step at a time. This idea coincides well with the Energy Diet reading which I enjoyed very much. If we can all recognize and take responsibilities over our needs as individuals we can then start making movements outwards towards larger scale issues. However, if we lack a responsibility for ourselves it only makes sense that we would fail to take responsibility over something larger than ourselves, much less something as large as society as a whole. I think during our exercise with the vulnerability questions, we saw that our problems aren’t exactly that unique. What sets some people apart from others, however, is how they own their problems. Do they blame it on other circumstances or do they accept them and attempt to better their situation? I think this is a key understanding to the idea of citizenship. That we all have problems and issues but when we can own them and look outward we can start becoming a part of society and start making it a better place.