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The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 03-18-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | MARCH 18-24, 2021 OPINION 19 As I listened to the presi- dent's address on March 11, I was at first struck by the very few "I's" in the speech. Unlike his pre- decessor whose speeches were never-ending self- congratulatory iterations, President Joseph Biden sounded humble. His focus was on "we the people" rather than "moi." Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was the first person whose essay I read (Time, 2/1/21, p. 19) to express the thought that the two most dangerous words in the human vocabulary are us and them. She noted that while the impulse to choose sides is inherent in our species leading us to join affinity groups, it is a mistake to think that we are better or smarter than the other. Many countries have had episodes of this vanity whether based on Hitler's race-based con- ception, Stalin's ideologi- cal one, and present-day conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. At least in the United States we aspire to the motto, "e pluribus unum;" out of many, one. I worry about how adrift this country has become. Political rallies have become exhibitions of hate. "Lock them up" has been the cry of crowds who disagree with somebody. Shouting matches have replaced dialogue. Far too many polls have docu- mented that Americans view those in another political party as evil. Can our disagreements lead to a unified outcome?The president's address sum- moned us to unify as an army against an external enemy, i.e. the pandemic. He proffered a path for all of us to protect one anoth- er by getting vaccinated and maintaining proper protocols as this country emerges from the last hell- ish year. He was right to divert attention from our closely held beliefs in order to see a common ground. It should go without saying that nobody has a monop- oly on the truth. Time is well spent seeking unity on principles as opposed to warring over a different point of view. To be sure nobody has a monopoly on the truth. The very concept that his nation is an "us" not an "I" should be the bedrock for a little humility. Surely, democracy can perdure when we disagree with one another as long as we listen to others and cease demon- izing those with another point of view. As old-timers like me were often remind- ed by our parents, you have one mouth to talk, but two ears to listen twice as much as you want to pon- tificate! So, Mr. Biden's speech can be a rallying cry to stop citizens from regard- ing either a Republican or Democrat as the Taliban. This country has enough common issues like the defeat of the pandemic and the war on poverty and prejudice as real responsi- bilities as opposed to rail- ing against one another. Surely, we should fight like heck if you think that the newest relief act is pork personified or not, or the country is going to hell in a handbasket, but the discussion should be that of a well-informed person open to other viewpoints for analysis rather than the words emanating from a bully. Here is hoping that we do accept the duty as a United States citizen to pre- serve the uniqueness which is supposed to govern how we deal with one another rather than excommunicat- ing our brethren who dis- agree with us. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Biden sets the right tone We are from the Class of 1979 at a New Jersey Catholic high school. We all turn 60 this year. All through college and into our young 30s, we naturally stayed in touch. Somewhere around 35, we made a more formal commitment and named and created a weekend event. For the first 10 years or so, we picked a city with a baseball stadium. We'd take in a game, play a couple rounds of golf, hit the bars, tried hard to avoid hav- ing to bail anybody out, and stay up back at the hotel or house telling the same stories, always with some new intel, true or contrived, about the junior or senior prom, the parties at Lynn's house, or the summer house at the shore. When the baseball city tour died down, there was more emphasis on golf, not good golf, but golf. Somehow that was funnier. We are a core group of a dozen identified by a label, which you need not know. We have been on an email chain for the last 30 years, which has allowed us to remain in constant contact. Depending on the nostalgia or the debate, a single string can last for weeks. We have soulfully extended an extraordinarily lucky and happy time in our lives that started mostly in just two freshman homerooms, 9A and 9H. While I am the old- est of five, with four younger sisters, since the age of 14 I have been blessed with these brothers. We've been spread across the country for decades. We have lawyers, engineers, money managers and busi- ness owners. We're most proud of Mike, who com- manded multiple Navy ships in service of our country and who in retirement was individually honored with an incredibly moving and patriotic ceremony amongst dozens of admirals aboard an aircraft carrier. All are or have been mar- ried and most have kids. Good kids. Successful kids. One, God bless him, has two under age 10. One has a handful of grandchildren. It's been a great story. But, truthfully, over last five years and in the midst of the pandemic, it has been strained. We happily made it through the 40th with no damage, but haven't seen each other since. The emails are weeks or months apart. The political edges to each string are sharp and the camps are divided. It would never seem possi- ble to me that our story could end. But recently, something else happened. Two other good friends from another place, guys I've known for 30 years and who have been best friends to each other for more than five decades, stopped talking. More than that, they've each pronounced they are done with the other. One is proudly MAGA. One is proudly not. It numbed me. A couple months back, I took a chance. After an email flurry of political roundhouse punches thrown by my Jersey guys, I jumped in and sug- gested if we didn't keep the string to just checking on our families for now, we may never see another weekend event again. I took the first step and updated the group on my wife and daughter, closed my eyes and waited. One by one, the boys fol- lowed. And then, naturally, came the suggestion of a time and a site, the normal delibera- tion over time and place, and finally, white smoke. We will gather once again to celebrate 60 at a golf resort this September. We will have to re-recruit a couple of the guys. There is some damage. But with vac- cines, a quiet summer and a little more careful typing, we should make it there. My fin- gers are crossed. I hope and pray that our history will overcome our present. And preserve our future. Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis con- sulting firm DYCOMM LLC. As friendships fray, I pray our history overcomes our present DAN YORKE Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Volume XXV, Number 51 March 18, 2021 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Jack Birolini, Director of Sales jack@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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