HOPE TO BELIEVE IN The post-resurrection apostle Paul extolled love as the greatest of the three Divine virtues in his letter to the Corinthians. Television evangelists tout faith because, after all, it’s faith that gets people to mail in checks.
I believe that hope is the redheaded stepchild of the virtues. Hope is the persistent belief that events will turn out for the best, that what is wanted can be had and that tomorrow will be better than today. It is hope that Pensacola needs the most during this holiday season.
The last decade did a number on us—9/11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, three hurricanes, the collapse of the real estate and financial markets and a series of political scandals that included four county commissioners being removed from office, three African-American community leaders convicted of stealing from their charities, jail deaths and the largest man- made environmental disaster in U.S. history.
For the first time since the Great Depression, the pain and suffering that has been silently endured in the darkest recesses of the inner city and splattered across the trailer parks of Escambia County were spread throughout the rest of the community. The rich had as much trouble getting credit as their poor workers and were crying for government handouts.
Somehow, against seemingly insurmountable odds, hope survived all that—though it might be on life support. Despite being continually kicked in the teeth, Pensacola wants to believe in a better tomorrow.
The positive, honest leadership of Mayor Ashton Hayward and Sheriff David Morgan has helped tremendously. They challenge their audiences to not just complain, but to be part of the solution.
Leaders are stepping forward. The MacQueens and Innisfree came to the rescue for A. A. Dixon Charter School for Excellence. Lewis Bear, Jr. successfully lobbied lawmakers for millions to help Northwest Florida recover from the BP disaster. The Studers created the Pensacola Business Challenge to inspire the next generation of small business owners.
Local government is doing its part. The City of Pensacola is completing the long-awaited Community Maritime Park and a new downtown library. Two community centers have been approved for construction. The Emerald Coast Utility Authority will complete, in the next few months, the demolition of the Main Street plant.
The impact of all this has been to rekindle hope. There is an excitement and a spark of anticipation for the coming year in the eyes of the citizens. Maybe next year will be Pensacola’s year. Maybe Pensacola really is serious this time about being a great city.
I hope so.