"Just down the block....! "That's how we'd say it in my day. Referring to the neighbors a few doors away who were our friends, and the friends a few doors away who were our neighbors. The two words were almost inter-changeable.
Not anymore. Nowadays [that's how older folk talk] nowadays the people a few doors away could be a few states away. We probably don't know them. Nor they us. Something's wrong with this picture.
Here's what happened. They stopped making friendly front porches...they started making private backyard patios ...along with Television and Facebook... plus a gazillion hand-held video games. Who needs to wave, chat, or be-friend the people just down the block? Hey, I've got everything I need right here.
Sociologists and politicians worry about this. They call it many things. Disconnect. Alienation. Isolation. Cocooning. Frankly, I think they're right to worry. Any democracy should worry when its citizens don't know one another. And probably don't give a tinker's damn about it unless a flood or an outage presses them together.
But I'm happy to report good news from the front. Every summer folks here just-down-the-block bust out of their cocoons and organize a Block Party. It's happening all over Chicago. For instance, this week I met a nice young couple -- just down the block here -- who hosted one. Good for them. And good for us.
No, our Block Party didn't make me feel as young as them. But it sure did make me feel as friendly as them. I propose our Mayor send a candids portfolio of this year's parties straight to Congress. Show 'em if those of us who sent them to Washington still know how to be friendly and neighborly...
...what's their excuse!!!
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