Saturday, 5 October 2013

[Gallery Post] The Importance of Debates Around the Dinner Table

Whenever there is a family get together (and by that I mean my family) you can be certain that once the meal has been devoured, everyone huddles around the dinner table and at some point the conversation topics become intense. The most recent was no exception and like most of my family topical debates they always get a little heated. I usually do end up on many opposing side doing my best to hold my own and the temperatures and decibels do increase as debate fever takes. At times I get defensive and carried away causing me to lose a little focus thus failing at times to articulate my point. Yet I love these debates with my family because whilst they might seem like a family row to some it is in fact a perfect of example of passionate freedom of expression in action. Lately, after the last gathering of the clan and a good night's sleep I started to wonder about the typical kinds of discussions families around the country had around their dinner tables. Was it all like ours, topical and relevant with views expressed with all the no holds barred gusto of a WWE pay per view event? Is it just light banter? Do families even bother to speak except when absolutely necessary?

In a society in which the national media (particularly right wing raggedy excuse for newspapers) are portraying an increasingly apathetic and lazy generation of youngster let down by the system and their own families it is easy to assume nobody really cares anymore. I know some families only ever talk to each other in expressions of rage barking orders and shouting at one another. They say you should never discuss religion or politics with friends and family as that is when people fall out. Yet when you consider they both play a vital role in shaping world events, even down to a local level then surely the most irresponsible thing to do is not to discuss them. It all boils down to fear mainly of causing offence but also fear of being judged as one amongst an unsavoury minority. My recent family post dinner debate really made me think about the importance of topical discussion that should be carried out unshackled by convention and free of fear.

In the song Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy, front man Chuck D raps "if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything." Could this be the future of British and even western society as we become increasingly apathetic about the things that shape the world we live in? I was raised during turbulent political climates on two continents and by an evolutionary osmosis developed my intellect and passion for all things political. The news was regularly played in my household and I would listen with great interest as my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles talk about the headlines and the state of the country. My idealism quickly took shape and I hadn't even turned sixteen when I would join in. I was fortunate to be raised in a socially and politically aware environment not to mention having first hand experience of changes in political climates. I ask again, what about the rest of Britain's families?

Should it be the case that majority of dinner conversations consist of the occasional grunt or eerie silences disturbed by the occasional chewing sounds then something is seriously amiss in my opinion. In between the occasional gossip, banter about the latest Made in Chelsea episode or even berating the latest X Factor contestant as a society we need to discuss the more serious things that go on in the world,those that matter. A night with my family might seem like a verbal free for all to those who don't understand and as I usually end up on the opposite end of a debate with the rest, not necessarily a fair fight. What you would be witnessing in fact is passionate Britons voicing their opinions, with no fear of causing offence or being labelled. I would like to imagine more of this goes on around the country than my cynicism might lead me to believe. Where my family are concerned we never shy away from the controversial and out of it comes a better understanding followed by dessert. When it comes to topical debates, mainly politics but also religion as well as the effects of pop culture and society's decline my family and I might be on opposite sides of the fence but we definite do not sit on it. Here's hoping so many more do the same.

Image Credit; Dion Hinchcliffe

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