Bailey’s Kentucky Kitchen Table

By Bailey

The Kentucky Kitchen Table took place in Bowling Green, Kentucky on April 11, 2019. Present at the dinner included the following individuals: myself, Hayden, Elizabeth, Erika, Amelia, Logan, and Laura. Hayden, Elizabeth, and Erika are all from Louisville. I am from northern Kentucky and Laura is from Spain. I am a nursing major, Erika is a political science and economics major, Hayden is a psychology major, Elizabeth is a psychological science and sociology major, Amelia is pursuing social work, Laura is sports psychology major, and Logan’s is unknown. In the beginning, normal conversations were held such as those about commonalities between one another. Residing in Louisville and living in the same dorm at Western were discussed. Interests were brought up such as Greek life, majors, hobbies, and enjoyable things to do around campus. Everyone at the Kentucky Kitchen Table had dinners with their families at some point in their lives so it was not a new experience for anyone.  

The conversation then turned to each of our individual goals and expectations for the future as well as addressing our role as a citizen. The general concept of citizenship followed similar ideals between all members present at the dinner table. Amelia stated that citizenship is about understanding the responsibility you have to your community and acting on that responsibility by working to make your community a safe place and a place that cares about its members. In addition, also knowing what is going on in your government in order to be informed is important. Erika, myself, and other individuals all agreed that is was important to be informed and aware of issues. I added that the ability to cooperate and participate was essential in defining a good citizen.  

The positives of our world today were examined, and Hayden stated that he really loves the diversity, uniqueness, and beauty of our society. So much is unexplored and unknown. Specifically going into locations, Elizabeth loves living in America because of the rights women have. Those from Louisville stated that they enjoyed residing there. When asked the question about knowing your neighbors, there were mixed responses. Some individuals stated that they knew their neighbors and others stated that they didn’t, but knew the individuals next door to them in their dorm. Suggestions were made to encourage individuals and neighbors to go outside and strike up conversations. 

In an utopia, qualities that were desired included living in a society that was safe, supportive, accepting, and problems could be openly as well as rationally discussed.  A community that values kindness and looks out for one another was also emphasized. 

Individually as citizens, even though not religious, Erika said our role is to not discriminate against or be hateful towards others. The possibility to still care about others and be a genuinely good or decent person can happen without being religiously affiliated.  

 Our current employment roles may be insignificant, but we can still be nice to one another or help inform or be informed by others. As Erika works in the political science department, she is aware of politics and the government. She assists other students, but her role in comparison with others at Western is minimal. Personally, as a lifeguard I have an obligation to help others in need and have the responsibility to maintain their safety. Through small interactions with others and our roles as citizens, we collaborate with people to reside in a functioning environment. In addition, we strive to live our own successful lives. 

Conversing about government, individuals running for office according to Erika should be transparent and they should be more focused about people’s concerns. Candidates shouldn’t take endorsements from large organizations and the issues shouldn’t be about money. Personally, I believe it is the citizens job to reinforce that those elected are serving the best interest of the people.   

Social issues that came up that were close to people’s hearts included immigration. It was mentioned that many people’s arguments aren’t valid as immigrants don’t receive benefits. They work low paying jobs and people use their reasoning as an excuse to be discriminatory. The animosity is upsetting. Climate change is another social issue that was discussed. It is important that individuals realize the point of no return is soon and major changes need to occur to prevent further destruction individually as well as on a large social scale. 

 Throughout the Kentucky Kitchen Table, I learned everyone had different backgrounds and experiences that led to their own unique perspectives. Generally, there was a decent amount of agreement between what the world should look like as well as what citizenship should entail. Amelia loved how the current generation is more aware of the problems that are faced today and more politically as well as socially active. A lot of change is still needed to combat various issues, but through deliberative engagement, discussion and awareness are being brought to light. In the course the three main ideas include having more say over our own lives as well as others’ having a say over their lives, how we live well together, and how we solve problems. Being a good citizen incorporates all of these ideas; participating and communicating allows individuals to have more of a say over their own lives and others’ over their lives. Through deliberative engagement, we can live well, or at least better together, as we rationally discuss issues and bring various issues to the surface. Utilizing deliberative engagement allows citizens to tackle problems and develop actions or options for solutions.   

An article that emphasizes the importance in deliberative engagement is “How we Talk Matters” by Keith Melville. Conversations that are exchanged between neighbors, politicians, family, and friends allow a connection between individual lives and their communities. Personal experiences, circumstances, and information discussed can identify where people would like society to be as well as the current state of various issues. Melville emphasizes that “we are honing a basic civil skill by connecting our personal lives to public issues and political decisions”. Everyday people engaging in political life gives them more say over their lives, others’ lives, and solving wicked problems. 

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