2016-11-23 / Opinion


Stay Thankful, Newport

Don’t look now, but here comes the hell in a handbasket Thanksgiving. For the nation and for local Islanders, the last Thursday in November has traditionally been a day to be cherished, a welcome mandate of sorts for us to pause and reflect on the many “thankfuls” in our lives. Across Newport, all are relishing the prospect of gathering in the bosom of family and friends, sharing the mashed potatoes and the love.

But what about this year? What if the conversation turns to politics? Or to claims that we are all heading for hell in a handbasket? On NPR’s “The Takeaway,” host John Hockenberry earlier this week asked that listeners wanting to avoid the minefield of politics at Thanksgiving tweet suggestions for alternative conversation starters, using the hashtag #Soanyway. For those of us living on Aquidneck Island, we like to think the scenario is not quite so bleak. We have looked for the fevered pitch, but so far the good karma seems to outweigh the bad.

And we see a lot for which to be thankful.

In his 1864 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln called upon his fellow citizens to “reverently humble themselves in the dust” – to work for the greater good. People argue and disagree, but still feel connected to the Newport community, and for that we are thankful. We hear echoes of Lincoln.

For this beautiful island we call home, we can be thankful for its beaches, its ocean views, its harbor, its open spaces and sanctuaries for wildlife. We are abundantly thankful for those who work tirelessly to preserve and protect these natural gifts. Newport is spectacular, 365 days a year. But it takes a village.

We can be grateful for the rewards of living in a thoughtful community; grateful that in this busy, often glittery and self-absorbed town, there are also those who have made it their mission to guarantee everyone has a voice. And a meal. And a bed. Many times in the past year we have witnessed our fellow Newporters respond with compassion to the needs and misfortunes of others, or with swift responses to behavior we can’t – and won’t – abide.

And we are thankful for our local leaders who work tirelessly to ensure the quality of life on this island. A shoutout to them all, for their vision and efforts have had a direct impact on the quality of our lives.

Newporters as a group are invested in more than their own lives, willing to reach across neighborhoods and across the demographic divide to make contact and make a difference.

Organizations on the island, such as the Salvation Army, Child & Family, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center will be devoting huge amounts of time to organizing gift baskets and adopt-a-family programs.

What this community does and displays on a day-to-day basis is something we should all be proud of – and thankful for. To paraphrase, it might just be the audacity of hope, but we don’t see a handbasket in our immediate future.

Stay thankful, Newport – gratitude becomes us.

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