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Commentary: Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jonathan Shour
  • 17th Training Wing Chaplain

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Right now, in America, we face an uncertain foe. We cannot easily square up across from illness and face this fear head on.

For many this causes a great deal of concern for themselves and their families because there is not a guaranteed course of action that they can take to protect their loved ones from what we currently face. They have no bully to stand up to on the playground. They do not have a Berlin Wall to tear down. They cannot save enough money to stave off impending financial trouble. They cannot load a shotgun and prepare to stand their ground.

The foe we face now in America is an uncertain one. But this is not the first time we have faced such uncertainty.

In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood before our country to deliver his inaugural address. Recent memory, at the time, remembered America and its Allies standing up to the Central Powers, a great and visible enemy. Now FDR had to inspire America to rally against a much more uncertain foe, facing crippling economic hardship amidst the Great Depression. To the American people he shared these unforgettable words:

“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.”

“…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” Fear can paralyze us from doing what we need to do to take care of our families and those around us. We should not let it. Fear is not the final word for us. Feelings do not determine our fate. We need to not allow ourselves to fear the state of the world. We should be bold in our actions, most especially in our care for others and for ourselves. That does not mean we do not take caution or heed public concern.

As a people, we must strive for a national unity in attempting to care for one another with love and compassion. When we look back on this time, it is my hope that we can look to our actions with pride because we handled ourselves well. That we can be proud of the ways we found to care for others. “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.”

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