With recent rioting in Baltimore, I noticed that those who are being violent don’t go home for dinner. Why? It isn’t because they aren’t hungry; it’s because no one is waiting for them to come home and share a meal. I’m a firm believer that cultural change begins at the dinner table. If we expect people to behave like good citizens, then we need to encourage the activities that produce good citizens. Families who gather together over dinner are likely to have conversations that include moral elements and create a sense of belonging for each family member. The food they eat doesn’t matter, only the bonds they develop.
Many of these young rioters come from broken or even absent families. I think it’s likely that they’re out on the streets causing chaos because they want to feel like they’re apart of something. Humans have a deep need to be apart of a group. Does the Baltimore rioting create a group identity for young people to cling to? We certainly cannot assume that anyone who came from a broken family will cause problems. However, we should be aware that young people like those rioting who (likely) don’t have a stable home environment are at risk for being drug into such groups because they want to have an identity.