When I was younger, my parents enforced eating together around the dinner table. But as my siblings and I got older and our lives as a family and as individuals got busier, it became harder to spend that time together.
I always liked it when we got to, though. It was often better than sitting in front of the TV eating, and I've had many a good conversation around a dinner table.
We live in a society where eating together has become less valued; even eating at a dinner table in general is becoming less common.
I won't spend this editor's note talking about the statistics or studies about the importance of eating dinner together because you've probably already heard all of it. The fact that we don't eat together as much as we should means we've lost sight of each other. We worry less about connecting with people and more about getting ahead and whether or not we're right.
Humans are pack animals. Think about it: We're part of a family unit, and many of us are also part of a group of friends. Being part of a pack is literally how we learn as people. You learn how to talk and walk and run and more through observing people and interacting with them. Many studies have shown that those who grow up in social isolation often have developmental issues and/or just don't get as far as they could in life.
To me, sitting down to eat together is part of being a pack animal, but it also does something else: It allows us to connect as people.
We've all seen what's happening—Charleston, S.C.; Charlottesville, Va.; Orlando, Fla. The world is a dark place right now. We need each other in these crazy times, but we're so focused on who's wrong and who's right and what people's skin colors are and how they live their lives that we forget how much we need each other. We forget about everything but race and political ideologies and the desire to be right.
After the Civil Rights Movement, we never actually sat down to address issues such as prejudice and race. We let all of them fester and believed that they were gone, that we were in a "post-racial" society, but the issues are still there. They've always been there. We didn't address the prejudice and the injustice, and now we have to, whether or not we like it.
Through my job, I've had the opportunity to go through a race-dialogue circle with Dialogue Jackson. While those conversations were tough to have, they were necessary, and I think that at least once, everyone needs to have one of those conversations in a safe space.
As a community, we also need to sit down together more often and just talk, have the conversations about race and prejudice, and also talk about all the problems we have and how to fix them. I believe that Jackson is on the rise, but it still needs help. We live in this place together. We work and play and live here; we drive over potholes everyday; we avoid the tap water; we advocate for better education funding for Jackson Public Schools. We're all in this together, and more face-to-face conversations as a community could help us solve these problems.
Managing Editor Amber Helsel is a Gemini, feminist, writer, artist and otaku. She loves travelling, petting cats, hoarding craft supplies and more. Email story ideas to her for BOOM Jackson and the Jackson Free Press at firstname.lastname@example.org.