Justin’s Kentucky Kitchen Table

By Justin

I did my KKT on April 1st at my home in Versailles, Kentucky. We were unable to find a well-suited home in Bowling Green at which to complete my KKT, therefore, I completed it with my parents and two sisters. My dad, Rob, is currently an engineer at Toyota and is what some might call a “computer geek”. He has a lot of love to give and there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for family. He was raised in a very conservative household. His father was in the army and thus, him and his family moved around a lot. My dad ended up living in several different places before settling in Kentucky, including Germany. Although my dad’s family is very right wing in their beliefs, my dad seems to be more moderate (although still conservative). I believe this has partly been because of my mother’s attitudes towards issues. My mom, Julie, is an accountant who loves her job. She was making good money while working for the state early in her career, however, she quit her job to raise her kids when they were born. She also grew up in a military household, but a very different one. Although her parents are overall conservative, they are progressive thinkers. My mom is complicated and tends to analyze each individual issue extensively when forming her opinion. She is a deep thinker as well as a progressive thinker. She is always pushing her kids to think openly about all issues. My first sister, Brittany, who is 20 years old, is currently majoring in communication disorders at Easter Kentucky University. She is a very caring individual and currently works as a nursing assistant at a retirement home. My other sister, Katelyn, who is 24 years old, graduated from Murray State University with a major in liberal arts and currently works as a desk clerk at a Hilton hotel. She is very book smart and loves relaxing and playing video games on her free time. Both, Brittany and Katelyn, are uninterested in many political and worldly issues. However, when there is an issue they show interest in, they are very left wing in their thinking. Lastly, there was me: Justin. I am currently majoring in Business Economics at Western Kentucky University and I love the anything that takes place outdoors, especially backpacking and rock climbing. I am very facts oriented when making decisions and, like my dad, family is very important to me.  I tend to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, or libertarian.

We all had a part is making the dinner, which included ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, and homemade pistachio pudding for dessert. When first asked the question, “What does citizenship mean to you?”, the table was silent with thought. After considering the question, Julie explained that she thought being a good citizen was using your time and talents to help your neighbor. When asked what “neighbor” meant to her, she stated the importance of global citizenship. She thought it was every citizen’s right and duty to help those in need to the best of their ability, no matter the country. Rob chimed in and agreed, however noted that your family comes first, and local neighbors come second, and global neighbors come last. The table seemed to all agree with this, however the extent to which we needed to practice global citizenship differed. Brittany, Katelyn, and Julie all thought the duty we have to others abroad was just important as the duty we have to those in our country; Rob and I disagreed.

After reaching a consensus that citizenship was using your time and talents to help one another, I decided to shift the conversation to specific roles of citizens. I asked the table what they thought about specialization and how they think it impacts, or should impact, your role as a citizen in social issues (an idea brought forth my John McKnight in “Professionalized Services”). The topic we ended up discussing was climate change. Julie started the discussion by declaring it was not only our right, but our obligation to do everything we can to prevent climate change. Rob agreed that we should do our best to reduce our carbon foot print at home, but believed it was not our obligation to fix the damage done by others, including corporations. He believed that specialization was required to correct social issues such as climate change. He said he would do what he could to reduce his carbon footprint, however, he works hard at his job and should not be expected to find new ways to reduce a corporation’s emissions; that was the job of the specialists. This led to a discussion about Americans’ large sense of individualism which seemed to spark Brittany and Katelyn’s interest. Both Brittany and Katelyn agreed that capitalism was to blame for Americans’ sense of individualism. They believed that to live together we need to share the nation’s prosperity somehow, an idea that seemed to sound a lot like socialism. Rob and I both believed that one could be a good citizen, and neighbor, while living in a capitalist community; we agreed that good values are rooted in the way you are raised and the culture your family has. The final comment was made by Julie and seemed to conclude the overall thoughts of the group: “You should act like a camera crew from 60 Minutes is following you around your whole life, if you don’t want the whole world to see it, don’t do it.”

Before this discussion, I only had a rough idea of what citizenship meant to me. I disagree with my family on countless things, however, I get many of my values and opinions from them; the value of citizenship being one of them. From the readings in this class I have been able to become well educated in different ideas of citizenship, however, from this discussion I learned that my idea of citizenship stems from a sense of individualism as well as family values. I learned that everyone has their own individual time and talents, it is simply everyone’s duty to use them to better their neighbor. I also learned that I still don’t know my opinion of specialization in social issues. I was pro-specialization at the beginning of the year, however, after reading John McKnight’s “Professionalized Services”, I am unsure. This class and discussion opened my mind to a view on specialization that I was not aware of and I hope to continue to explore the options of tackling social issues as I mature.