My Kentucky Kitchen Table Project took place in my hometown of Scottsville, Kentucky on March 31st. Around the table in the Make America Great Again hat is my brother Brandon. He works at a factory and considers himself to be very conservative. The next one is my mother Lorinda who also works at the same factory Brandon does, and she considers herself to be a very neutral person on all political aspects. She also does not like politics at all. One of the quotes I remember her saying as a kid about politicians was that “if they don’t come into office as a crook, they will leave as one.” This is still the mindset the majority of my family still has today. The next person in the picture is my dad, Frank. He owns his own construction business and has been working since the age of fourteen. My dad is also very conservative and a huge trump supporter like my brother. The man on the far left is Freddie, he is one of my dad’s business partners, and he is extremely liberal with his political views. And behind the camera is me, Derek, I am a biology pre-medical student. I have lived in Scottsville my whole life, just like everyone else at the table except my dad, who used to live in Pikeville, KY. And I consider myself to be a moderate democrat. So as you can tell, this is a very diverse group with extremely different views, but somehow we all get along incredibly well.
The first question I asked was “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” Brandon said to him it meant being there for his fellow neighbors. Frank and Lorinda both had similar views in that they both said citizenship to them is everyone in society contributing in some way. Freddie believed that to him it is everyone helping each other out to the best of their ability. To me, citizenship means taking that extra initiative to turn the place where you live into the society that you want it to be. For example, if you’re walking through the park and you see trash, instead of complaining about how trashy the park looks, and you took the initiative to pick it up then it wouldn’t look trashy anymore. I really do believe in being the change you want to see in the world.
We also talked about a lot about current events today and how different life is now compared to when each person grew up. I asked the question, “Do you know your neighbors? Why or why not?” And Freddie said he doesn’t anymore because both of his neighbors are really young families who do not really value social connections as much as he does. He believes it’s because of the mass technology today and that many people lose valuable social skills and no longer try to make an effort to get know anyone. He compared his life now to his life growing up as a child and states that back in that time era, it would just be extremely odd to not know every one of your neighbors and their kids extremely well. He also believes that people used to treat each other better with more respect than people do nowadays. My mom and Dad both agreed. So it led me to ask the question of why they think people used to respect each other more in the past, and they all agreed that it is the lack of parenting that parents provide their children.
Another thing we talked about was the advice that we would give to people running for office in our country. Frank said they should be more like Donald Trump in the sense that he is completely transparent and you know where he stands on every issue. Brandon, Freddie, and Lorinda all think they need to appeal to the biggest class in America, the middle class, instead of just focusing on the top 1% or only the extremely poor class. I honestly think that future politicians should stay true to their beliefs, instead of worrying about pleasing everyone or worrying about getting elected because if you’re true to your beliefs and you do get elected then I personally think it will a much more effective and enjoyable experience.
I learned that no matter what your viewpoints are or your beliefs everyone can still get along. I learned a lot about my dad and where he was coming from because before I would get frustrated and wouldn’t want to listen to what he had to say, but this project really allowed me to understand where his viewpoints stemmed from. My dad started working when he was 14, he grew up poor, and really learned the value of a dollar. Because of this, he doesn’t believe in giving people free things. He believes that they should work hard to get out of whatever situation they’re in, just like he did. My mom also grew up poor, and she has the same viewpoints as he does. Their viewpoints really opened up my eyes because for the first time I really understood where they were coming from, I just really wished I would have asked them sooner.
This project relates to what we learn in class by the type of discussion we had at the table. When doing this project, we talked about things that most of the time do not come up in everyday situations and because of this sometimes we are really bad about discussing things with people who have different opinions than our own. That’s why I really liked doing this project. It really makes you sit down and have a nice conversation about things that affect us in everyday life. One of the central ideas in our class is how can we have more of say over our lives and contribute to how others can have more of a say over theirs, and this is exactly how we can achieve that. We achieve this by asking the hard questions and trying to find possible solutions to make the problem better. In the Righteous Mind chapter by Jonathan Haidt he talks about how our elephant, or emotions, are in control and our rider, or logic is used to justify the actions of our emotions. Personally, I think this concept is huge in terms of future political debates, future deliberations, and future discussions because it’s basically stating that it doesn’t matter if you’re throwing facts at people, if you’re not appealing to their emotions, then the conversation probably isn’t going to go very far.