Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why do we allow fear to dictate our choices?

This is a question that I have asked myself many times in the past weeks. It puzzles me. Our country was not founded on fear, it was founded by a people who stood up and fought for their rights rather than be subjugated and ruled by a faraway king. They did not fear, they were angry at the unfairness of a system in which they did not have a voice. They stood up and threw off the monarchy that ruled them and formed a new government. If they had feared, they never would have won. But against long odds, they did win!

Our country has always stood up to fear as we faced many challenges. The words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 at his first inaugural address echo that sentiment:

"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. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."

Roosevelt did not allow fear to dictate his actions. Nor was it the focus of his first campaign. In the election of 1932, our country was mired in the Great Depression. Roosevelt ran his campaign on hope and inspiration. He led Americans to believe that he could bring prosperity back. He gave people hope.

So why today are we allowing ourselves to be governed by fear. Why is it so hard for so many to believe a message of hope? I have no answers to this. But for myself, I would rather follow a leader who inspires me to hope than one who is trying to scare me. How about you?

This article was first published on my Newsvine column November 3rd 2008. the day before the election.

The photo is public domain from the FDR Library

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Blogger azsky13 said...

I have been re-publishing many of my old articles from my Newsvine column on this blog. Last night
I was going through my old articles in my archives looking for a short story that I wanted to share with a friend. I found this and somehow it still seemed appropriate now given the political climate these days.

April 10, 2010 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Dani H said...

To the best of my recollection, we as a nation did not fear until a former vice-president came into power. I'm old enough to remember from JFK forward. I don't remember fear before Bush/Cheney. And that climate of fear scares me more than anything else could because decisions made out of fear are rarely the best decisions for the long term.

April 10, 2010 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Hi Dani,
I agree that Bush/Cheney created a climate of fear to further their agenda. They manipulated the facts and the media after 9/11 to great advantage. But, I think politicians have always used fear. It was just more localized. Pre-Civil War there was a fear of a slave rebellion in the south. Abolitionist John Brown stoked those fears at Harpers Ferry. More recently, the controversial "Daisy ad" in the 1964 Presidential campaign was only played once and was pulled. But, it was re-played by the news media and sealed the election for Johnson. Goldwater was portrayed as a "warmonger" when he suggested that he might use nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Reagan also used fear of Communism in USSR and China to beef up defense spending.
But, Bush/Cheney have probably been the most effective on a larger scale. Republicans are still trying to do it with Health Care reform.

April 10, 2010 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Dani, I almost forgot, thank you for stopping by to read and to comment.

April 10, 2010 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Agree. Agree. Agree. I don't know why people want to live in fear - rather than in hope. Fear is necessary for survival, but to always be afraid, to always live every moment in fear - is carcinogenic. I believe the current height of fear that some tea baggers are waging is part a desperate attempt to regain power and part racism - in it's 'purest' form. I prefer to live in hope and in a position of action rather than reaction. I am glad you reposted this! But odd that three years later - it still resonates. When can we quit with the fear mongering (prob never I know), but for today - I hope! :o)

April 14, 2010 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Caroline, Thanks for dropping by. I think the only reason Bush was re-elected was because of the fear that his administration generated. That fear was a cover for a lot of the illegal activites. They manufactured non-issues distracting voters from the real issues. But the Republicans now have gotten much worse. Now they just lie and keep repeating it hoping that it will eventually be believed. Unfortunately, many people do.

April 15, 2010 at 3:37 AM  

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