We Have Nothing to Fear—But Fear Itself
FDR’s famous line is just as valuable in this 2020 Terror. See how ironic it is in this week’s edition of “Isn’t That Ironic?”.
This is one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s most famous quotes. Spoken during the depths of the Great Depression, when millions of people had lost all hope, FDR said,
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.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Inauguration Address, 1933
Almost a century later, we are, again, dealing with an unjustified terror, an unreasoning fear that has paralyzed millions of people and kept them cowering in corners, incapacitated by a nameless fear.
It’s incredibly ironic because we think we fear things that are outside of us. But fear is always within us. As such, fear cannot be banished with a bomb or a gun or a law or a lockdown. Fear is within you. You can’t hide from it. But you can dispel it. Like darkness, fear is really nothing in itself. We have nothing to fear—because fear really is nothing. Darkness is simply the absence of light. Fear is simply the absence of Love.
As St. John said,
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18
We might be tempted to think the opposite of fear is confidence, or strength, or power. Again ironically, these things are closer to fear. The illusion of power is born from the fear of powerlessness.
And when I say love, I don’t mean lust. It’s not eros, as the Greeks would say, but agape. It is that universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance, that goes beyond emotion and seeks the best for others. In fact, this Love is God. Again, St. John tells us that, God is Love. (1 John 4:16)
There’s something else we should remember about fear. When someone is trying to make you afraid, they are trying to manipulate you. All of us do this—parents, teachers, bosses, policemen, terrorists, governments, religions—everyone uses fear to manipulate others. Sometimes it’s fairly innocent and socially beneficial, sometimes not. But love is always a better option.
The fear of something outside of us, causes us to attack something we perceive as outside us. Maybe we attack another person, an idea, an attitude, an institution, a country, an organization, a belief, a race, a religion, a virus. But we can never destroy something that is within ourselves (our fear) by attacking something that is outside of us. We will only succeed in attacking ourselves. This idea is related to one I presented in an earlier blog post, that we become what we fight against. (Oct. 2 post)
So regardless of what you fear, attacking anything will not solve it. Only love can do that. Of course, we have real, physical problems, including health problems. But our problems all have solutions—both individual problems and collective problems. The rational, logical, problem-solving part of our brain can help us to solve our problems. But that’s not the part of our brain where fear resides. And the problems themselves are separate from the fear. Our biggest problem is never the problem itself, but the fear we hold.
The solution to fear, is love. The more we allow fear into our consciousness, the more it pushes out love. Pray and meditate on the consciousness of love, and it will push out fear—just like St. John says.
If, and when, you can expel all fear from your own consciousness by filling your consciousness completely with love, then you will have no fear. Because there really is nothing to fear. Except fear itself.
God Bless You!
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