The official state motto of Rhode Island consists of one word: HOPE. You see the word Hope on the Rhode Island flag and state seal. The use of the word Hope is generally thought to be attributed to the state’s founder, Roger Williams, who drew on the biblical phrase “hope we have as an anchor of the soul.” (Hebrews, 6:19)
These days, we struggle with that word Hope. Oh, we know all about Rhode Island’s natural beauty, that for a state 48 miles long and 37 miles wide, we have 400 miles of shoreline running along Narragansett Bay; we have magnificant mansions (“summer cottages”) in Newport; and more restaurants per square mile than you can imagine. But we also have 10.8% unemployment, tons of foreclosures, frustration, anger, and apathy. We need a little more hope!
Some people live in Rhode Island all their lives. And some of those people never venture more than 10 miles from the town of their birth. I’ve met native Rhode Islanders who have never been to green and bucolic Little Compton, or climbed aboard the Carol Jean for her 55-minute sail to Block Island. They don’t know that Chariho isn’t a town, but a combination of Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton. They live in gritty Pawtucket, and know the Blackstone Valley up to Woonsocket, past big brick mills now either boarded up or transformed into condominiums. They live in tony East Greenwich and Barrington for the summer, but head to West Palm Beach once the first frost covers the ground.
It’s good to have hope. Hope means a trust in the future, a belief that things will be better, an anchor of the soul.