In his first Inaugural address Franklin Roosevelt said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That was nearly 80 years ago and sadly today our nation seems to be more fearful than ever. Shouldn’t life in America be better than it was in Roosevelt’s day? Advances in medicine alone should make life today less fearful – no Polio or Rubella or Small Pox. Technological improvements make communication instantaneous – my mom will tell you about writing letters to my dad 60 years ago while he was overseas and not getting a reply for months. My blog is free but you might have spent 5 or 10 cents on a newspaper in the 1930’s to read drivel like this. So life is better today! Then why do so many people live in fear?
Politicians seem to be great fear mongers. So are media personalities, insurance sales persons, and some clergy. Fear can be a powerful tool; just look at any political ad. Listen to any talk radio loud mouth or attend a church service and you likely be warned about some impending evil – life is scary but if you vote for me, buy my product, or follow my religion you will be safe (or safer anyway). Fear is an excellent marketing tool.
Fear has fuelled hate and prejudice. Fear has gotten us into wars. Fear begets fear. Be afraid – be very afraid!
But I for one refuse to be ruled by fear. I will not vote for you because you want me to be afraid of your opponent. I will not buy your product, listen to your propaganda or read your book because of some vague threat of evil or danger (despite your warnings). I will not buy into your fear game. And I will not follow your religion (and your rules) because of some fear of hell.
Instead I will hold my head up high and embrace the good in this world. I will take an active role in promoting peace and justice (if only in my small circle of influence). I will love God and be thankful for life in all its forms.
I want to be a role model to my grandchildren. I want them to explore the world and all its wonder and be forces for good. I want them to be ambassadors of good will; agents for positive change; lovers of justice and protectors of our planet.
Sometimes we have to stand up for what is right. And shout down the hate and inequality in our lives. Some of us will take the lead, some will follow and still others will stand silent.
But fear should never motivate us. Love should.
P.S. Emeli Sande’s song speaks to triumph over fear – give it a listen or better yet, let it be your anthem.