If I could, I would give Memphis the gift of hope.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl wrote about the importance of hope. He watched the effect of hope and hopeless on the prisoners in Auschwitz and chronicled his observations.
Frankl noted that the death rate in camp increased exponentially between Christmas 1944 and New Years 1945. The chief doctor of the camp proposed a theory to Frankl as to why this happened. The deaths did not rise, he conjectured, because of harder working conditions, or lack of food, or poor weather, or some sort of epidemic. Increasing amounts of prisoners were dying, he believed, because the prisoners had hoped that the would be rescued and released by Christmas 1944. But the closer that date drew, and the clearer it became that rescue would not happen, the more discouraged the prisoners became. This affected them physically so that their ability to resist sickness was weakened.
They literally died of hopelessness.
If I could Memphis a gift, I’d give the gift of hope.
Not hope in the government. But hope in God. Not hope in the media. But hope in the Messiah. Not hope in the scholars. But hope in the Spirit.
In the Christmas story, a father named Zechariah compares the birth of Jesus to a sun whose rays are just beginning to pierce the cold darkness (Luke 1:78). It’s a light of hope. Hope in a God whose faithfulness is unwavering. Hope in a Son whose birth is unconventional. Hope in a Spirit whose power is unfathomable.
Dear friends, during this Christmas season, may God fill you with hope.
Wisdom. We desperately need to see the wisdom of unity and pulling together as a metropolitan area. This even includes north Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. As Memphis goes, so does the surrounding area. Beating up on each locale only makes us all losers. One of the primary reasons the United States has the world’s highest standard of living is that we are united. Contrary to emotional calls for secession in some quarters, it would be the worst thing that could happen to the people who think they want to separate. Those areas would immediately become third world economies.
An understanding heart. Whether taking positions in government affairs, education, welfare reform or other sensitive and often divisive topics; we need to listen to others’ opinions and be willing to compromise where we can and in cases where we cannot, we can agree to disagree with more kindness, love and respect. When the Savior walked on the earth, he gave two great commandments; Memphis would be a much better place if all Memphians worked harder to master them.
The gift of renewed perspective in this season of new beginnings. Reaching far beyond the public figures who serve as our leaders and who often bear the brunt of our residents’ frustrations, I would love to see all of us commit to analyzing what works in our community. What if we made a concerted effort to be careful in our speech, making certain that we spoke with greater frequency about what is good and right about our city and the opportunities we are afforded by living here?
Our elected officials some “guts” — a vision and sensitivity to serve the people rather than the power brokers and special interests. Memphis needs a new revenue source. We can not continue to increase the property taxes of the people and allow the corporations and wealthy landowners to prosper on reduced taxes and no taxes. Memphis needs a pay-roll tax to allow all who make their living in Memphis to pay their fair share.
Uncompromised city and county cooperation. This would allow meaningful success in the areas of community development, which is needed in order to compete with surrounding cities who are out-bidding us on conventions and and hotel accommodations. Memphis must keep getting better in order to satisfy growing clients like COGIC and others.
Sanguinity (hopefulness, cheerfulness, confidence, optimism) with our model faith community as the focal point — and not just because of our great gospel music or sizeable Southern Baptist presence. Our mosques are beautiful, the Hindu Temple is magnificent, the renewed Roman Catholic Cathedral is breathtaking, the Greek Orthodox Church is glorious, the Asian and Latino church communities are vibrant, and the Jewish community is still the oldest and largest in the State of Tennessee.