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The Purpose of Fear, Part 2

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. -- 1933 Inaugural Address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

When fear prompts us to pause to check out the facts, and make measured, moral, and deliberate choices, it is a tool worth having.

But if fear growls at us from behind, prompting us to run before thinking, it is no longer a tool. It is in control. We are no longer making choices. We are reacting out of our anxiety.

As one tool among many in our toolbox, fear can move us out of arrogance and into the humility that allows us to be more open and more wise. It can sound a warning we need to hear. When we learn how to control fear, rather than allow it to control us, we can use it to make good decisions out of our best thinking.

But left in charge of our lives, fear runs amok. Left in charge, fear shies away from the whole truth. It revels in being the nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror of which FDR spoke. To ignore the best scientific advice, to refuse to create a set of conditions that must be met before resuming public gatherings does not constitute courage. Courage never means denying reality. 

Conquering fear means to face the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly.

It is scary that our entire world has changed so drastically.

It is scary that we not only do not know what the future will look like, we don't know when "the future" will begin.

To walk out into the public square right now, maskless, shoulder to shoulder with others, ignoring guidelines established for the common good, is not a sign of bravery.

It is a sign that your fear of the unknown, and what is to come, is so large, you must hide from it by feigning normalcy when there is none.

Conquering fear requires humility.

The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit...These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men. -- FDR  March 4, 1933


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