My Kentucky Kitchen Table took place at my house in Bowling Green, KY on November 6. Nine people attended the dinner including myself, my parents, Josh and Karen, my brothers, Seth and Thad, my distant cousin, Caroline, and two people who attend my church, Anna and Brock. This group of people displayed generational, experience, educational, and class diversity, which led to many interesting conversations and learning experiences.
I am an 18 year-old freshman at WKU majoring in Biochemistry. I was born and raised in Warren County and live with my parents and two brothers. I participate in SRHA and AED on campus and was on the academic team in high school.
My parents, Josh and Karen, are both teachers and in their 40s. Josh works at elementary/middle school in Logan county as a P.E. teacher. He also coaches the girls volleyball, boys basketball, and girls basketball teams. He was born and raised in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona and went to college in Florida. He also regularly participates in our worship services. Karen works as a part-time math teacher at WKU. Additionally, she teaches Bible classes at our church and volunteers with both of my brothers schools. She was born and raised here in Warren County and attended WKU.
My brothers, Seth and Thad, attend public school. Seth is a 10th grader in high school who plays football and is in band. Thad is a 6th grader in elementary school who plays basketball and is in band. Both boys share similar interests and spend many weekends mowing lawns for extra money. Seth also regularly participates in our worship services.
Anna is a 12th grader in high school and one of my best friends. In school, she participates in band and 4H. She plans in attend WKU next year, but is unsure about her major. She lives in Warren County with her parents and three siblings.
Of the group, Caroline and Brock are the two that I know the least. Caroline is my distant cousin and, even though she lives in town, my family and I do not get to see her very often. She is a 20 year-old junior at WKU majoring in English with a Political Science minor. She is originally from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky where she lives with her parents and two siblings. Brock lives in Warren County with his mother. He is a 19 year-old part-time student at the local community college and works part-time for a welding company.
Our dinner included chicken pockets, roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, carrot casserole, cooked apples, wheat rolls, peanut butter pie, chocolate cake, and cookie dough cheese ball. My mom always cooks way to much food. After we started dinner, I asked the first question, “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” This question had a variety of interesting answers. I said that staying informed was important so that you would be a responsible voter. Caroline added that just generally being kind to others was a crucial component. Anna included that taking care of your land made the community a more beautiful place. One of my brothers mentioned jury duty. Brock mentioned the right to bear arms. The others in the group echoed our thoughts.
The Requirements of Citizenship: Jury Duty and the Draft
We then discussed the required components for citizenship. We mainly discussed jury duty as my mom served on a murder trial when she was eighteen and my dad had recently been called for jury duty. This part of the discussion was mostly informational, but my mom’s jury experience attested to many different aspects of citizenship. In the murder trial she had served on, the defendant had pled guilty, but his attorney argued for a lesser sentence because the defendant’s judgement had been impaired by his drug use at the time of the murder. However, the defendant had given a false name shortly before the murder took place, proving that he was already aware that his drug use could get him in trouble. This led to a general discussion about how to be a good jury member by paying attention to all the details of a trial in order to give a fair ruling.
Additionally, we briefly discussed signing up for the draft, and whether or not females should be required to do this. Brock had signed up for the draft recently and my brothers will have to in the future. Caroline did not believe females should be required to sign up for the draft as she felt that many women, including herself, would not want to join the armed forces. Although I am sure many women would not want to be drafted, I am also sure that many men did not want to drafted, but it was required of them. We did not discuss the subject much further as we all felt that it was unlikely that the draft would be reconstituted.
Safety in the Community
In addition to talking about jury duty and the draft, we also spent a lot of time discussing safety in the community. This discussion was prompted by the questions “What kind of community do you want to live in?” and “What is the thing you love most about living where you do?” Safety was the unanimous answer to both of these questions; however, it was interesting to see why the members felt that our community was safe. My mom, Caroline, Anna, and I all felt the Bowling Green area was filled with good people and that our safety is determined by the quality of our neighbors. Brock felt safe because he knows that he and many of his neighbors owned guns as protection. It was interesting to see how the collective power of the community was what made us feel safe, but we differed on whether this was due to the communities offensive or defensive behavior.
Religious Influence on Citizenship
As everyone at the table identified as a Christian, we had some discussion how our religion influences our citizenship. We all agreed that Christianity had led to our appreciation for the sanctity of human life, which influenced how we treat others and how we judge others actions. Our religious identity also influenced how we answered the question, “What advice would you give to people running for office in our country?” Everyone wanted officials who appreciated moral standards and stood up for what they believed in, even if there beliefs were unpopular. We also agreed that these qualities were hard to find in leaders today.
This part of the discussion reminds me of the article we read in class titled “If It Feels Right…” by David Brooks. Everyone at the table wanted to elect leaders who had distinct moral standards, yet young people today have none. If it is difficult to find moral leaders now, it will be even more difficult to find moral leaders in the future when the young generation starts running for offices. The points brought by in my kitchen table discussion agree with David Brooks’ points because morality has become undefined in today’s society.
Election Day and Marsy’s Law
Our final point of discussion happened while we were cleaning up after the meal. Caroline asked if anyone had voted for Marsy’s Law. She had heard a radio announcer explain the problems with Marsy’s Law due to its current wording. Brock agreed with her and said that the current law would end up giving rights to criminals. However, my mom and dad both stated that they hoped the law would be rewritten to specifically give rights to victims and their families as the original law had intended. Everyone of course agreed that this would be the best action as the current law is written in very broad terms.
Overall, I really enjoyed this assignment and the discussion we had as a group. I thought our discussion brought up some interesting points about the one of the central questions for Honors 251 “How can people live better (or, at the least, less badly) together?”. We all wanted a safe community that protected the good and punished the evil. In order to live better together, we each needed to take actions to create a safer community, whether that be by encouraging a safer community or protecting ourselves. We also felt that stronger moral standards would create a better community. Finally, we wanted to enact laws that protected the victims instead of the criminals so that the victims can live “at the least, less badly” after they have had crimes committed against them.
In conclusion, we each have a responsibility to make the world a better place. Each person at the table was trying to do this in some way. My mom and dad are teachers of the next generation, Brock helps build stronger structures and equipment, and Anna, Caroline, Seth, Thad, and myself are all trying to be good students so that we can use our education to make the world a better place. In end, we are each just individuals, and we cannot make large changes on our own; we must rely on the collective power of each other and our communities to make the world a better place.