My Kentucky Kitchen Table dinner was held in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on November 5, 2018. We had a spaghetti dinner with mac and cheese and green beans. The participants of this dinner included me, Kelsie, Lily, Caitie, Carlie, Bonzo, and KBram. Caitie is a freshman from Louisville who is majoring in social studies with a teacher concentration in secondary education, identifies as Catholic, and does not identify politically, but has conservative parents. Carlie is a sophomore from Georgetown, Kentucky who is majoring in photojournalism and identifies as a Baptist and Democrat. Bonzo is a senior from Lebanon, Kentucky majoring in broadcast journalism and identifies as Catholic and Republican. KBram is a senior from Nashville who is majoring in hospitality management and identifies as Methodist and Republican. Kelsie, Caitie, Carlie, Bonzo, and KBram are all members of Alpha Omicron Pi and I am a member of Chi Omega.
The topics that we discussed throughout the dinner were: citizenship and the advancements of society, family dinners, the correlation of religious identification and the treatment of others and our obligations to society, homelessness, what kind of people we want to be when we grow up, careers, advice for people running for office and politics, racism within different generations, and the Catholic church.
Citizenship & Advancement in Society
The discussion opened to what citizenship means to us, besides the basics, such as voting, paying taxes, and following laws. Overall, we agreed that it means to contribute economically and socially as citizens continue to build the community, such as volunteering and contributing to the common good of everyone. We further discussed the best advancements in society today, one of which is communication via mass portals, such as the internet. It is amazing how we are able to reach someone across the world, which is something we have not been able to do in the past. Although the media may create problems, it also solves many problems, especially miscommunication, and allows a greater increase in knowledge of ourselves and other cultures.
A familiar pastime for American families is a gathered family dinner. However, every family is different. Growing up, my mother cooked dinner for my family every night, until high school, those family dinners faded as extracurricular activities increased. Caitie explained how her family ate dinner together every Sunday night at her own house, or her grandparent’s house, with her sister, parents, grandparents, and aunt and uncle and their kids. KBram explained her weekly tradition of getting sushi with her friends and family every Sunday or eating dinner with her neighbors on a random week night. Carlie said that besides Thanksgiving and Christmas, she only had family dinners during the season of the television show, “The Voice,” because her mother and neighbor were best friends and adored the series. They would all dress in their pajamas, cook breakfast for dinner, and watch the voice together. Bonzo’s mother always cooked because they had such a large family, and they never ate out unless she had a volleyball game. Overall, the tradition of family dinners varies with each family. Sadly, they seem to be less and less prevalent with each generation.
Correlation of Religious Identification and the Treatment of Others and Obligations to Society
Overall, there was a consensus that religious affiliation corresponds to how we treat people in society. Carlie explains that without Catholicism, she would not be as conscience about her actions towards others, and she wants to lead her life as someone who acts on those conscience actions. Bonzo was raised on Christianity, and she believes the basis of Christianity is kindness; Therefore, if you do not treat others with kindness, you are not living your life to your best Christian self.
Furthermore, we agreed that as a society, we have an obligation to everybody, or the common good itself, and we should continue to help those around us. Carlie believes that today, everything connects, and it allows for society to be wholly dependent on each other and their actions. She thinks there is no way she could be entirely self-sufficient on her own. She states that no matter what, we contribute to other people through our obligations, actions, and even through our careers. Bonzo believes that on the basis of helping people, it is a moral or ethical obligation. Although you are not required to help others, if you did not contribute, you would ultimately feel guilty. Morals indefinitely reflect your personality and if you were raised on selfish grounds, your morals would lack.
In our discussion, we spoke of homelessness, and how it connected to the overriding idea in Honors 251 of a wicked problem within today’s society. It is a growing problem, especially in places such as Louisville (where Caitie and I are from) and Cincinnati (where Lily’s family is from). However, as citizens, we can transform homelessness and how we approach the impoverished. KBram explained that every day in the summer on the way to her internship, she would pass the same homeless man. She admitted to being scared of him, until she found out that he was a relative of her coworker. After she found this out, she began giving him small things, such as food, to help him out. Caitie presented the idea–one she learned in high school religion class–of keeping small snacks in her car to hand out to the homeless she would pass on Breckenridge Lane in Louisville. Kelsie presented another idea in which she would give gift cards to the homeless. Overall, it is sad that there is the lingering distrust among citizens and the impoverished. We fear giving them money because as a society, we think they will just use it on drugs or alcohol. KBram mentioned how she gave money to the impoverished who were passing out newspaper, but she does not know what they spent the money on. Carlie furthers the discussion by admitting that as citizens continue to give the impoverished money, we are enabling them to purchase drugs or alcohol. There are numerous homeless shelters available with the viable resources to survive, yet some homeless people choose to not seek out those opportunities.
Who We Want to be When We Grow Up
Further into the dinner, we talked about our futures and who we want to be when we grow up. The majority of responses were a mom, wife, and eventually, a grandma. However, I said I wanted to be self-sufficient so if I am ever in a bind, I can rely on myself. This brought up the topic of divorce and the idea that in this day and age, women want to be solely independent. However, many women are trapped in marriages due to monetary troubles. Carlie mentioned that as she grew up, her mother told her to never rely on anyone else for money but yourself, because you will find yourself in a bind relying on others. Kelsie simply wants to be happy, live in the moment, and always see the positive things in life; 10 years from now, she does not want to look back and regret the decisions she made. This connects to the story in The Impossible Will Take a Little While called, “Mountain Music.” The son gets angry at his father for continually being pessimistic about the world around him and claims, “You’re so worried about the fate of the Earth, you can’t enjoy anything.” The connects to Kelsie’s goal of living in the moment, especially with an optimistic attitude. Ultimately, we never want to look back and realize we lived an unhappy life.
When considering who we wanted to be when we grow up, we dove into the conversation about our future careers. I want to be a nurse practitioner, Lily wants to be a nurse, Kelsie wants to be a news anchor, Carlie wants to work with photojournalism, but also as a graphic designer for advertising, Bonzo wants to work in broadcast journalism, and KBram wants to work in hospitality management. The conversation really sparked when KBram stated that she is going to live a more comfortable life compared to luxurious in the hospitality management field, especially for the first couple years. Kelsie stated she is going into broadcast journalism, so it will take about five years for her career to take off, and Carlie mentioned how she is going to have to do freelance work for photojournalism. The discussion really took off when Caitie discussed her plans to be a teacher and spoke about teacher salaries. Overall, we agreed that teachers are underpaid for what they do, and the profession as a whole makes barely 90 million a year. Caitie made a good point that teachers are the creators of the future; Without teachers, you would not have doctors or the professions making a great deal of money.
Advice for People Running for Office and Politics
Honors 251 is a course heavily built on politics, so it is no surprise that politics were discussed throughout our dinner. In this generation, we have control over who we want to lead us, and if we get the right person in office, they can do a lot of good. However, the wrong person in office can be detrimental to society. Sadly, a lot of this generation is misinformed or underinformed about politics. At the dinner, we asked, “What advice would you give to people running for office?” All in all, we agreed that if a politician is going to build their campaign on a specific idea, they must stick to the goals of that idea if elected. If they run a campaign and say they are going to do something, they must do it if elected. In other words, we just want politicians to hold integrity, remain authentic, and stick with their initial word.
Racism with Different Generations, the Catholic Church, and the Acceptance of Others
With the increasing conversation, we discussed racism and the Catholic Church. With each generation, there is a certain degree of racism and the acceptance of gay rights. We discussed how our generation is more accepting of all races and sexual identities with the advancement in society. However, we agreed that most of our grandparents tended to be slightly homophobic and racist. Overall, the degree of race and gay right acceptance comes with each generation, and sadly, the older generations we know tend to have little to no acceptance. It is also problematic that the Catholic Church does not accept gay marriage. Furthermore, the Episcopal church just declared their support of gay marriage. Even though this process took a long time, it shows that change is not easy, and it takes time and effort. With the Episcopal church’s acceptance of gay marriage, they were able to open the minds of their numerous followers. This small change created a domino effect by allowing more and more people to accept gay marriage.
Before this dinner, I hardly knew some of the girls sitting at the table. Now, I am confident that I can refer to all these women as a friend, and even a role model. Through KKT, I learned that it is so easy to get to know someone over a shared meal. Not only did I learn their majors, hometowns, and religious and political identifications, I also learned about their morals, beliefs, and got to know each and every one of them personally. In society today, it is difficult to have a sit-down dinner, especially with people you do not know. However, I want to make it my goal to have more intimate conversations with my friends over dinner. Kentucky Kitchen Table taught me the power of a shared meal and engaging in good conversation, and I realized that mealtime is a time to get to know the people you share it with. Ultimately, I am confident that in the future, I will continue to develop connections with others over a shared meal and will continue to learn about those around me.