When it comes to many things in life, my family and I disagree. We’re at two vastly different ends of the spectrum, with me being at more of the liberal side and them being die-hard conservatives. I feared the worst for this discussion, afraid that it would become wildly out of control and almost to the point of lethality. I knew that these questions would be one of many things we would unfortunately disagree upon that would lead to catastrophe.
But it didn’t end up that way.
My Kentucky Kitchen Table took place November 10th at my home in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. It was a dark, cold night, but the conversations we had were worthwhile and full of understanding and warmth. My dad, Steve, cooked us an absolutely delicious steak; my mom, Susan, made baked potatoes; and my friend Brooke and I cooked the macaroni. All were in attendance: Steve, Susan,my sister Anna, and Brooke. I had wanted the group to be as diverse as possible, inviting a plethora of people from my hometown, but Brooke had been the only one available.
Regardless, we began the discussion with my first question: Besides voting, paying taxes,and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you? After a moment of thought and consideration by everyone and after repeating the question once more, Brooke offered up her viewpoint on citizenship. She argued that citizenship is being a good person within your community. Susan then spoke up and suggested that being a citizen of America includes displaying the rights which are given to you by the Constitution. Both of these answers relate to conversations from within our class about how when addressing problems, we should take advantage of the rights and privileges we have as Americans to do good.
The next question asked was, “What do you think is positive about our world today?”Susan suggested that the best part of living today is the access to rights that people long ago did not possess, including the right to vote. The answers to this question were very similar to the answers about citizenship. I found it interesting that although we may disagree on things politically, that is a privilege we are able to have as Americans. The First Amendment protects us from criminalization of free speech, which is something that many others in multiple countries do not have the privilege of having.
When asked what their ideal community is, each individual offered a piece to a bigger idea of community. The bigger theme was that we each wanted a community full of love and connection, where people help others in need and serve the community. We did not want a community of hate and neglect, which we suggested that religion could play a part of. Steve offered that his ideal community was religious and used God’s word to impact the lives of each other in a positive life. Anna agreed with this statement, but Brooke suggested that in order to achieve this,we would have to be wary of how religion is used.
We have often discussed religion in class, and how it is used by some people as a tool of oppression on others. Brooke’s thoughts and beliefs aligned closely with those within the class discussions. Everyone at our table agreed with this statement and argued that if we wanted a community rich in spirituality, the Bible would have to be used for good and not bad, as it can often be construed differently depending on your perspective.
Overall, the discussion was very insightful and despite my initial fears on our differences in ideas, I learned that everyone in my group had very similar views on what citizenship and community looks—or should look—like.