Choose a path

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

  The State of the City address made by Mayor Jim Ardis last week hit just the right tone.

   Like a pastor leading his congregation through a spiritual storm, Ardis offered optimism, pride in his flock and reason for hope. Peoria needs optimism when so many are preaching nothing but gloom.

   Peoria is a great city filled with some of the most industrious, charitable and visionary people you will find anywhere.

   What Peoria often lacks is faith in itself. We have too many naysayers in Peoria, whose only mission seems to be to criticize.

   Criticism is necessary, and can serve a very valuable purpose. But, for criticism to be valuable, it has to be tempered with the faith that we have a citizenry who can right wrongs.

   Ardis, in his speech, reminded us why we should have faith in ourselves and those we call our neighbors, and he did so with words from an outsider, former Chicago Tribune reporter Richard Longworth.

   “The book in general portrays a bleak economic future for the Midwest but highlights Peoria as a ‘beautiful little city in Central Illinois that may have imagined the Midwest’s future.’

   Ardis continued, “He goes on to say that Peoria has ‘gone through deep decline, has picked itself up, counted its strengths, put them together and used them to build a new city that doesn’t look much like the old, 20th century Peoria but may be a model for the new century.’”

   That is high praise from an outsider.

   Ardis pointed out Longworth said Peoria re-made itself without waiting for the feds, state government or some foundation telling us how to do so.

   We should take pride in that.

   Ardis does not carry the banner of municipal boosterism with quite the same gusto that former Mayor Jim Maloof did (and who could?), but he does carry it, and waving it hard. Ardis deserves credit for that.

   Without optimism, Peoria is nothing but a city with potential and no drive. Every Peoria citizen is at a crossroad today. The choices are the roads to optimism or pessimism.

   Only one road leads to opportunity. The road of optimism does not require putting on blinders and smiling stupidly no matter what. It simply requires faith and work. As we celebrate Black History Month, think back on the civil rights movement and the man now sitting in the White House. When one does that, it is obvious that faith can move mountains.