"The Only Thing We Have To Fear is Fear Itself"
If you've just read the headline, and listened to the words of the late president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, understand and believe it, then you just learned how to overcome fear this very minute and every time it shows its evil head.
The famous quote by former president Franklin D. Roosevelt, delivered at his inaugural address on March 04, 1933, was more than a mere quote, it was a divine and deliberate act of reassurance during times of crisis, and personal agony. For Roosevelt himself, being a beacon of hope and courage in times of uncertainty was the only route to proving himself as a true leader who valued the trust of the people, and the hope of a shared vision.
The presumed author of the quote, Roosevelt's long- time confidante and former newspaperman, Louis McHenry Howe, arrived in Washington to aid and support his friend, and told his assistant:
“I don’t care what else Franklin says in his inaugural address as long as he tells the people that the only thing they have to fear is fear.”
When Howe arrived in Washington, FDR gave him his handwritten draft of the speech. Howe made his own changes and additions and had a secretary type a new draft. One of Howe’s changes had been to add the line, “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 the needed effort to bring about prosperity once again.” FDR liked Howe’s addition, but then, on the draft, changed the end of the sentence, from “to bring about prosperity once again” to “needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” These were the words he used when he delivered the speech several days later at the inauguration, on March 4, 1933.
At this point in time, the health of FDR, was also the health of the nation. He gave a speech that mirrored his perception of strength, and faith over adversity and uncertainty. Despite his own fears, Roosevelt knew that he was responsible for how the nation reacted in time of crisis, had he buckled, the nation would crumble right under what was left of his legacy. It was up to him to offer reassurance. FDR's Secretary of Labor, remembered her Commander in Chief, and his refusal to allow his polio diagnosis to paralize him mentally. She remembers, “He learned in that period and began to express firm belief that the ‘only thing to fear is fear itself.’ He never displayed the slightest bitterness over his misfortune.”
In our present day reality of a devastating pandemic, we have the opportunity to learn how one former world leader dispelled fear in a time of uncertainty, and offered a message of reassurance to a nation on its knees.
In light of the current reality of the American people, and people around the world, it is wise to take page out of the book of FDR's speech, his mindset, and his legacy, and that is to remain hopeful, faithful and always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Light leads the way across the planes of darkness, and into the magnificent realm of peace, love, and contentment. While it's easy to fear, as we've been programmed to reach for fear as a first choice, we must remember that we have the capabilities to choose to:
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." ~ Psalm 46:10 [NIV]
1. Fight - as in use the indwelling power to overcome adversity, or
2. Flight - as in using available power to escape an overwhelming situation until a desired outcome is achieved. Ironically, at times using the flight option may in fact work in favor of overcoming most situations.
Overall, if the only choice is to believe that the only thing to fear is fear itself, know that the anticipation of doom which creates the fear, can also create the ability to be free from the perception of fear instantly. So, what you read above is true, overcoming fear is just a minute away, if you believe that is. What choice do you have? Faith or fear?
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