I held my Kentucky Kitchen here in Bowling Green,Kentucky on December 1, 2018. I held it at my sister’s apartment, and it was abit of a more relaxed situation than we were originally planning. The weekend Iwas originally going to host my KKT I had to move out of Minton, which led tous having it later than what was originally intended. However, we still hadsome wonderful discussions, and I’m glad that we were able to find a time tohave this meal together.
One of the things that made our evening lovely was the people there, who all helped to deepen the discussion in some way. To start off with, there was my sister Emma and I. We are from a small town in Indiana, and we come from a very conservative, religious family. Get ready to see a theme. Emma’s roommates who were there with us that evening were Olivia and Madison. Emma met them through church, so as you could guess, they too come from conservative families. Madison is from a small town in Kentucky, but Olivia is from Memphis, so she brought with her the experience of living in a more diverse community her whole life.
The student who I hosted this Kentucky Kitchen Table with was Faith, who is my Citizen and Self class with me. She has lived in Indiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and currently lives in New York, so she has had a broad experience of different communities and regional cultures within our country. The last person who attended our KKT was Blake. He also attends church with us, and is neighbors with Emma and her roommates. Before our KKT we had not talked to each other that much, so it was interesting to hear the opinions of a person who I did not know as well.
When it came to the meal itself, it was not exactly traditional. Considering that we are all broke college students living in small apartments with little space to cook (or couchhopping with no space), I did not want to require everyone to cook. Instead, we had a very stereotypical college meal. Faith and I both brought a pizza, and Emma and her roommates brought drinks and chips. When we had all arrived, we sat down at Emma’s table, and Blake said a prayer to start off our meal.
I had only ever had casual conversations with most of the people at the table, so it was a little intimidating to start off the meal with the question of “what does citizenship mean to you?” People were quiet for a few moments, but soon people began to speak up. Olivia shared that she believes part of citizenship is the rights that you have as a citizen, such as freedom of speech and a right to fair trial. Emma said that she thinks a lot about local citizenship, since she can see her actions making more of a difference on that smaller scale than she can on a national level. She feels that being a citizen of a community means that you have a responsibility to those around you to help where you can, and to play your part.
Madison then related this to citizenship as a whole. She pointed out that as citizens of America, we have a responsibility to work, and to do our part to keep our country’s system going. We all agreed that every county and economy can be compared to cogs in a machine, and that if one area stops functioning correctly the whole thing starts to fail. As citizens, we need to work and pay taxes to keep the system of our society functioning the way it is intended to.
Blake then brought up the topic of how religion relates to citizenship. We are all Christians, and we believe that our “citizenship is in heaven”. Does this belief impact our roles in our earthly citizenship? Discussing this idea took up a big chunk of our time, and we related it to many issues that related to citizenship in multiple ways. From our perspectives on taxes to our political stances, we all felt that our ideology surrounding even the term “citizenship” were highly influenced by our religion.
As this conversation progressed, I became a little concerned that we may be getting a little off topic. But then I considered the fact that the purpose of this dinner was to let the conversation flow, and to hear people share whatever feelings on the topic of citizenship they may have. So, I chose to let the conversation continue to flow, and everyone continued to discuss how religion effects their view of social issues.
One topic that came up was the difference between American citizenship, and more general citizenship of nations worldwide. We discussed how your identity is a part of being a citizen, even though it does not tell the whole story. This led to us deliberating on the citizenship of the Dreamers, as they identify so strongly as Americans but are not seen as such in the eyes of the law. In addition to this we also brought up racism, homelessness, equality in educational opportunity of minorities, and how all of these things effected people’s experiences with citizenship. We all had different stories and opinions to share in the discussion, and everyone openly shared these things with each other.
As this portion of our discussion began to slow down, Faith and I felt that another good question to ask would be “what social issue is closest to your heart and why?” Olivia spoke up first, and said that the social issue closest to her heart was women breaking the glass ceiling. She said that she has seen gender inequality impact several of the women in her life, and believes that it is a social issues that’s solution is long overdue. Emma shared that she cares very much about modern slavery. She has researched a lot about the relation to the relevance of pornography in our culture to sex slaves, and how even though that some pornography is consensual so much of it is tied to sex slavery and people being forced into situations that they did not ask for. She does her best to be a spokesperson for this cause, and supports groups that fight against this modern slavery.
Madison feels that one issue that has been close to her heart in recent times is abortion. She feels that unborn children should count as human lives, but she also recognized that making abortion illegal would lead to more dangerous, illegal abortions taking place. Faith said that the issue closest to her heart at the moment is racism. She recognizes that we all have some form of racism and prejudice in us, and that everyone needs to be more to be aware of what they are doing to hurt and help those around them.
I said that the issue I care most about currently is environmentalism. I feel that environmentalism is something that many people overlook because its results are not immediate, so people do not feel a real need to act. However, not caring about the environment could fundamentally change our planet and the lives of all people, so I believe that it is something that people need to make a priority in their lives.
Blake brought up an interesting idea as his “social issue”. He said that the social issue closest to his heart is sin. He feels that the root cause of all of these problems we discussed is sin and corruption in the hearts of people, and that if people changed their relationships with God and lived more Christ-like lives then these problems would be solved. This is another example of how religion has shaped the lives of the people at my Kentucky Kitchen Table, and how it has definitely shaped Blake’s perception of the issues that we are facing in our world today.
As a whole, I feel like I learned a lot about the mindsets of the people I had at my Kentucky Kitchen Table. I have spent a lot of time around my sister’s roommates, but I had never thought about asking them about their opinions on these complex issues. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that they did have well-thought-out answers to the questions that Faith and I asked, and it reminded me that people think about social issues more than we see. It was also nice to get to know Blake better, since he was a person who I had spent a little bit of time with but had also never had deep discussion with.
I felt that this was a really great experience to learn more about everything we discussed in class. I did not have much opportunity for true deliberation since everyone at my Kentucky Kitchen Table were mostly on the same page when it came to citizenship and social issues, but I think that the experience was still helpful to prepare for having more controversial discussion in the future. I am glad that I had the opportunity to “host” this event, and I hope that it leads to further discussion on these issues in the future.