The lovely people seated at the table are a few of my great friends and some of their friends. We are religiously similar but culturally, politically, and geographically diverse. Starting at the bottom, there is Savannah, she is my spunky friend who does not really care about political conversations, which was interesting to have her there and hear her input. To her left is Mary Margaret, she is blunt yet loving. Then there is me. To my left is Lee, he is also very blunt and conservative and an all around goofball. To his left is Nick, Nick is also conservative but mostly keeps to himself. The girl next to him is Ellie, she did not eat with us but wanted to join the picture. The male in the back is Jonathan, he is currently in training to be in the US Army. Next to him is Spencer, a firefighter. Then the male with the glasses is Connor, he is shy but speaks up when he finds something important. He came with Jonathan to our dinner. The male in the red sweatshirt is Ty. He is also very conservative and follows conservative beliefs when it comes to politics. Harrison is the last person in the bottom right corner with the grey and red Patagonia pullover. He is very opinionated and not very open minded when it comes to political topics.
At this dinner we discussed many different topics including sports, religion, the presidential election, what it means to be a citizen, our jobs and their purposes, our ideal futures, the status of our world today, and many other topics that could be considered irrelevant to this topic.
When I asked my friends what citizenship meant to them beyond voting and taxes, one of them said “Citizenship gives you a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. It gives you the rights and responsibilities that come with living in the greatest democracy in the world. It gives you the ability to be and do anything you want to do.” Just from reading that, one could gather that my friends are proud to be Americans. We also discussed the privileges American citizens have that other countries such as China do not have, especially privacy. We deliberated for a couple of minutes about the privacy in America. Although our government does not listen to what we say on the streets out in public through bugging traffic lights and things on the street, our government can view our computers and that was disturbing to us. Some brought up the notion that the government filters our technology to keep us safe from potential terrorists and people that can harm us.
The presidential election was also a hot topic at our dinner. A great number of people at the table sided with Trump on a few of his issues, especially with abortion. However, some of the girls were frightened by the idea of not being able to have control over their own bodies, but were conflicted with the idea of abortion because of their religious views on the right of life and who should be in control of such things. The boys brought up how Hillary was guilty and should be held accountable for the Benghazi deaths and that she cannot be trusted with our lives.
Since the major thing we all have in common is religion we also discussed how we should treat others based on our religious views. One of the main points brought up is that the changes in society are making Christians look hateful and ignorant. This really bothered us. We discussed homosexuality and the House Bill 2 in North Carolina. Since we are Christians, the Bible tells us to love one another and treat each other with respect, grace, and kindness. It also says that homosexuality is a sin and is wrong. Someone at the table said that if we (the government) condones people to use the bathrooms that they most identify with, it would almost be promoting homosexuality, bisexuality, etcetera. It is conflicting because we are called to love and not judge, but it is confusing on who is to draw the line because none of us here on earth are God, the ultimate judge.
We also discussed our experiences growing up in different families with different lifestyles. When I asked about family meals and eating at home, this is what one of my friends said, “I had meals with my family growing up but it wasn’t every night because we had really busy schedules. I really liked it and it made time together special.” One of my friends is a dancer and an athlete with three other siblings. She said her family rarely gets to eat dinner at home around their table and that their dinners mostly consist of drive through meals on the weekdays. Another friend of mine was only involved in the marching band at his school and ate dinner at home with his family almost every night. He enjoys the time spent together and the conversations but also wishes that his family would go out more often.
Being young adults, we of course discussed our jobs and the purpose behind them. One of my female friends that works in an office said this, “I see my job as serving a higher purpose. When I go to work I am earning money that is not just for myself. My money goes to support businesses, charities, and to support myself and my future family.” On the other hand, one of my friends has a rather wealthy family and has not had to work a steady part-time job other than working at a dress shop once a week. Since she has most of her needs taken care of by her parents, she does not feel the need to work. Unlike her, one of my male friends that is also wealthy has a strong work drive and works for things he wants and is already saving for his future. He plans to work in real estate, so he works for his father who is a real estate agent and builder, and for other builders in the community so he can get career related experience.
Another topic discussed was our plans for the future and future home life. Some of us want to live in neighborhoods where our children can play with their friends in the neighborhood while some of my friends want to live out in the middle of nowhere, where no one can bother them. I asked if any of them know or knew their neighbors growing up and one of my friends responded with this, “I also don’t really know my neighbors. I know their names and say hi to them when I see them, but we’ve lived by them my whole life but never really gotten to know them. I think it’s because life is so hectic and I don’t live in a neighborhood with a community atmosphere. And my neighbor may or may not deal drugs, that is also a factor.”
Through this assignment, I learned a lot about my friends that I would not have learned otherwise. I was somewhat concerned with how some of them are so closed minded when it comes to political issues and ways to deal with issues in our democracy. Our discussion at our meal related to the three questions of the class: How do we live together? How do we solve problems? How can people have more say over what their lives look like? Over all of those three questions, the one discussed the most was how we live together.
I think this assignment was very unique and interesting. I got to meet people and also meet my friends I already had on a deeper level. We discussed many things that would not usually be discussed in a normal gathering. Some of the topics made people feel uncomfortable, but it was good because people were able to form opinions and learn how to express themselves.