“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – FDR
It may seem simple, but the truth usually is. There is a destructive pattern stitched within our society called fear. It keeps us from making change, it keeps us from speaking up and speaking out, it keeps us from holding on to a cause after the media has decided it’s time for a new story to grace the headlines. Fear immobilizes as it grows, leaving us so much worse for the wear.
I do believe the only thing to fear is fear. It is the simple root of our complex problems. Fear breeds ignorance, hatred, anger, and violence. We don’t know how to be afraid, so we pretend we aren’t. We pretend the color of somebody’s skin doesn’t cause our heartbeat to increase or the way somebody dresses doesn’t make us choose another seat on the train. That’s not us. We’d never do that. That’s how the others act. We are better.
We are a society that feeds on buried fears. It festers inside of us until one day, years and years of assumptions and stereotypes take over rational – even just humane – thinking and we burst open with an anger so vast we are willing to kill.
It’s time to accept the fact that we are a weak society. Our potential is infinite. Our children have the grace and insight and humanity to love one another because of their differences, not in spite of them. Let’s not spoil that when we have a chance to let it continue. We do not need more hate. We need to shed the belief that we must be strong to become stronger together. We are not strong. We are broken, so very broken, and we are not going to mend without coming together. Let us be honest, let us be open. Tear down those self-righteous walls and help.
Snide remarks and drawn out arguments on social media that just lead to anger and resentment are what we do best, but they don’t help us do good. We need good, in the most intense way. Need is no small word. Fear is no small word. Yet we misuse them and take away their true significance. We glance over the words without thinking about what they mean and the value they hold. Don’t let this be the case here. Listen when I say,
We need to accept, confront, and conquer our fears. Not for ourselves. The monsters in the closet don’t keep us awake at night anymore. We are content in our ignorance. But one day our children will look in that same closet and see what we’ve blinded ourselves to. Do we let them follow us on the path to fear and shallow contentment, or do we beat back those monsters before our children ever set eyes on them?
A 4-year old little girl saw that monster when she watched her daddy die in the front seat of their car. She’s seen what we are capable of at our very worst. That is her truth now. We owe it to her and to all of those who haven’t learned to fear or hate yet to fight our battle together rather than ignore it. Fear needs to lose. We need to let fear lose. Set everything else aside and acknowledge your fears, our society’s fears. Fear’s strength is on our inability to look it in the eye. Stare it down. Talk to it. Embrace it. Overcome it.