Prescription For Post-Election 2016: A Block Party

November 10, 2016


Posted in: Families, Hot Topics

The most surreal thing about this morning is that I want exactly the same thing today as I did last night.

I want a block party.

And I want that block party to refuse to acknowledge blocks.

I want a big ol’ potluck that has all sorts of food, and bowls, and plates, and pitchers of drinks that crowd the table like a mature forest.

I want mashed potatoes, and waffles, and black coffee, and masala tea.  I want dim sum, and tamales, and hummus with olives. If you crave meat, don’t worry—there will be meat.  If meat isn’t your thing, there will be tofu galore.

I want the seats to all look the same, and I want the weather to be nice, and I want my kids to get to know the other kids at the table, and I want to shake hands with neighbors, and I want those neighbors to be people I’ve never met—and would never have met—if not for this grand and garish gathering.

And there’s a big sign.

Did I mention that yet?

A big sign that would hang over this crowded table, a table, while we’re at it, that would be ginormous, and round (not rectangular), and that would stretch from coast to coast.  A table that would bend and contort from the Gulf of Mexico, to the mountains of Montana; a polished cherry oak platform, a massive thing, floating along in the Pacific from Hawaii to Guam, and then back to the mainland and up each of our coasts…from Alaska on one end, to Maine on the other…from the badlands of North Dakota, to the dusty riverbeds of south Texas.

I am not envisioning a subtle “to-do.”

It’s, like, really, really big.

This sign, the one over this big table, this table to which every single person who lives in this country has been invited and perhaps even mandated to attend, would say only one word:


That’s all.

Just “enough.”

You should know that I toyed with a different sign.

I was going to have a giant cornucopia and in red block letters proclaim that, “This isn’t The Hunger Games.”

But that is SO not the mood that I want for my party.  (It’s my party.  I can do what I want.)

I want this block party maybe more than I’ve ever wanted anything other than my family’s health.  If people want to pray before they eat, that’s fine.  If people want to start eating, that’s fine, too.

No Twitter at this block party.  No tweets.

I have a penchant for scary stories, but lest you should worry, know this: this party is exactly what it seems.  It isn’t Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”  The irony of that story is too raw right now.

No Facebook at the table.

Or Snapchat.

Or even YouTube.

No smartphones at all.  (It turns out they’re not all that smart.)

There will be no “likes” at this block party.  No emojis.  No evites, and no commercials for luxury cars.

We will break bread together.  And if conventional bread isn’t your thing, then I promise an endless supply will be gluten-free.  We’re not having that argument at this party, either.

I want us to tell stories about our children, and to learn songs about our families, and I want us to check in with each other about how our parents are doing.

I want us united and resolved.

I want us to know each other’s names.

I want to recommend desserts to strangers, and I want strangers to recommend desserts that I’ve never tasted before.

If we can’t make this thing work with words, then we’ll make it work with music.  We’ll have a big ol’ playground, and we’ll just sit there and listen to our children laugh.

And we’re going to stay at this block party until the sun comes up.

And then we’re going to do the same thing again, and again, for as many times as it takes.

We have so much more in common than we think.

We have so much more in common than we even know.

And here’s the thing: I think it’s time that we started to know.

A version of this post originally appeared and was written by the author (Schlozman) on WBUR’s CommonHealth on November 9, 2016.

Steven Schlozman

Steven Schlozman, M.D.

Steven Schlozman, M.D. is associate director of The MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, and a staff child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is als...

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