EDITORIAL

Fun-sized state, full-sized problem

Posted

Recently, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation began a new series of online multimedia ads that focus a light on the state’s broad range of tourism-related activities. Everything from fishing, surfing, kayaking, hiking, dining on a rooftop in Providence and ice skating and snowboarding are showcased in short, 10-second ads which all end with the message that Rhode Island is “Fun sized.”

It’s quite a simple, yet effective marketing campaign, as evidenced by the fact that the approximately $700,000 advertisements have already netted nearly $2 million in hotel revenue for the state, according to Commerce Corporation Chief Marketing Officer Lara Salamono.

Rhode Island is indeed unique and sets itself apart from other states due to the accessibility of its features. Within a short drive, comparatively speaking – as for a Texan a one-hour drive is just what you have to do in order to get to work and for a Rhode Islander it constitutes a serious journey – everything from wooded hiking trails to the churning surf of Narragansett are available to you, and much of it can be enjoyed without spending very much money at all.

Rhode Island is also unique in terms of the people who inhabit it, and the small size of the state ensures that you will bump into plenty of people who vary significantly across any different cultural spectrum imaginable. There are plenty of vocal Republicans and hardcore Trump supporters amidst a mostly silent majority of progressive Democrats, there are sailors and land-lubbers, artisans and educators, wholly American Caucasians who can trace their lineage back to the Pilgrims and first-generation Portuguese that all share the same street address.

As much as Rhode Island is a melting pot of natural features and attributes, it is a true melting pot of society. This is something that, like our small size, should be readily celebrated – especially in the midst of a divisive period of American politics.

Anybody from Rhode Island should be able to agree with the fact that it takes a joint effort to make things work properly. Whether you’re sailing, running a restaurant or simply playing pickup basketball in the park, we always achieve more by extending a hand and accepting help from others.

This is how we must also tackle the overdose epidemic, one of the biggest problems facing our nation, and our state, today. Regardless of how people get into a state of addiction, it has been shown to be incredibly difficult to reach recovery on your own. At some point there will likely need to be a person willing to extend a hand and help, if not an entire group of advocates – perhaps complete strangers.

The story running of the front page of this edition showcases individuals who have dedicated their lives to helping others avoid addiction or overcome its grasp. They don’t have all the answers, but they understand what victims of drug abuse are going through and they have the empathy to want to see them get better – and in some ways, that is the solution to our problem.

Rhode Island offers a million different means through which you can find enjoyment in life, but in order to be able to find happiness it is first crucial to understand that life is worth enjoying. Drugs provide people with a chemical vacation away from lives they feel are devoid of meaning, and the right person or activity can help clear away that harmful shroud.

If you or somebody you know or love is struggling with opioids or any other form of addiction, seek out the Providence Center, or Bridgemark Recovery, or Butler Hospital to see what services are available. If you know someone is teetering on the edge of addiction, invite them out for a day of activity during a gorgeous Rhode Island day this summer and talk with them – show them you care, and how beautiful the world can be.

We may never eliminate undue suffering from an imperfect world, but we can prevent it as best we can through our own attentiveness and kindness. After all, it’s Rhode Island. Everyone here is family in some way – you just haven’t figured out how yet.

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