Markkula Center for Applied Ethics - Better Choices

Eating, Talking, Time Flying: Let's Dine Together

Anand Purohit

Anand Purohit

Anand Purohit

During the time of Thanksgiving, families come together around a meal, talk about their lives, share in their thankfulness, and reunite with relatives whom they haven’t seen in a long time. But instead of recovering from food comas in the aftermath of Thanksgiving, many students find themselves recovering from the headaches of intense family debates regarding controversial political issues, or awkward conversations with their radical left-wing Aunt or their hyper-conservative uncle. The conversational acrobatics of trying to get your point across without offending anyone (particularly when your Sanders-supporting liberal mother and your racist grandfather are in the same room) can be exhausting. Nonetheless, we have these conversations, despite their awkwardness and inherent difficulty. Few Thanksgivings are complete without at least one tense political discussion or awkward ideological exchange. It has become a widely documented, and staple component of the American family dinner. If we can manage to struggle through these conversation with our respective families, then why not endure these conversations with each other? After all, Santa Clara claims to act as one big family. This was the thinking behind the Hackworth Fellows’ Civic Dinner.

The idea was simple: 12 students, sat around a table, eating a ton of food and talking about difficult subjects. The dinner—generously provided by the Center for Ethics—consisted of delicious Italian food, and the conversation—captivatingly fueled by the 12 students in attendance—covered topics ranging from the importance of listening, to the nature of free speech, to racism, to the impacts of human self-preservationism on social interactions. While the dinner was meant to last an hour, we found ourselves talking excitedly for an hour and a half before anyone bothered to look at the clock. Ultimately, each student provided valuable insights and we all heard from each other. Just like Thanksgiving, we encountered at that table both food for our stomachs and food for our minds—while the pasta was certainly the easier to digest, it is hard to say which of the two left us feeling more satisfied.

Dec 6, 2017

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