Arlene Violet: Good riddance 2020; welcome 2021

By Arlene Violet
Posted 1/8/21

This is the time when new year resolutions abound. I certainly have a few of my own as well as some suggestions for political leaders. Here they are:For me: Perennially, I resolve to follow my …

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Arlene Violet: Good riddance 2020; welcome 2021


This is the time when new year resolutions abound. I certainly have a few of my own as well as some suggestions for political leaders. Here they are:

For me: Perennially, I resolve to follow my mother’s example of gratitude. She never felt entitled to anything. She had a grateful heart for any kindness. No wonder she lived to be well over 100 years old, since her spirit was constantly nourished by the good deeds of others.

In 2021 I carry a heapful of gratitude into this year. Frontline health workers put their lives on the line to keep all of us safe. Despite those who scorned social protocols like wearing masks or social distancing, thereby increasing their workload and jeopardizing their safety, uncounted and often anonymous caregivers like EMT’s, pulmonologists, doctors, nurses, CNAs, home health care workers, pharmacists, nursing home staff, janitors and workers at test sites are just a few of those who put aside their own self-interest for the greater good. Many health care workers came out of retirement and staffed regions where there were shortages. Despite crushing fatigue and the ongoing sorrow of death after death, they hung in there. The nightly cheers for them have stopped but they nonetheless press on with the bone-tiring work. Many times we recognize the heroic work of the Mother Theresas of the world, as we should, but she has many "twins" right in our own communities.

Other workers kept us in food and supplies, whether they were long-haul drivers, bus drivers, and market or store workers. We get so used to people doing their jobs that we overlook the courage and commitment it takes for them to show up for the greater good. The reality that they work for meager wages makes them even more heroic.

Others were also on the front line of necessary protest. Social justice organizers brought the reality of their lived experiences as people of color to the world. I am grateful that they reminded us to connect the dots from police brutality to racial disparities in COVID-19 health access, as racism is still alive and flourishing in this country.

For politicians: Finally, Congress got out of its own way by passing COVID relief but some members still had to load pork into the bill. Closer to home, state leaders passed a whopping budget of $12.8 billion. Just who they think is going to foot the bill remains to be seen, given the rampant unemployment plaguing the state. Can’t somebody step forward with a plan to reduce spending? Hopefully, presumed speaker, Joe Shekarchi, will rise to the occasion. Hopefully, he is cognizant of the fact that past speakers stylized themselves as reformers and soon fell into the seduction of their position. It is hopeful that he professes that he will look into the IGT-Twin River (Bally) deal since it still would loot the public purse.

Looking at how average citizens have discharged their responsibilities to the public at large is quite a contrast to the pomposity and arrogance of Congress and local politicians. It’s time for those who purport to lead us to emulate the virtues of those who showed up to do their duty. Time will tell whether the General Assembly matches the heroism of regular folks.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.