“The only thing to fear is fear itself.” – These are the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first inaugural address. What is the fear that Roosevelt described?  Could it be that it is the fear of ourselves that is the culprit, for we are the ones who allow it to grip our lives. Fear only lives if we allow it to live. We are the masters of our choices.

Recently several persons have discussed with me the subject of fear. They’ve believed me a strong person, and with that strength in mind, they’ve wanted to know what I myself fear? Further, what do I think fear really is, and can I help them eliminate fear from their own lives. (Would that I could eliminate fear from one’s life, including my own for I have had moments of fear.)

At the time that Roosevelt said those words, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” the entire United States of America was gripped in the worst depression the country had ever known. This president was looking for a way to help the country find something beyond despair in this horrible time. He was hoping that we would stop thinking about fear and address our problems, because might be a good way to rise above fear. And, being the leader he was,he did manage to move a nation out of that depression by motivating its people.

Today, we ourselves have a fair amount of national fear, which at present we fail to rise above.   Why? Perhaps it is that we spend time concerned with what we are “entitled” to get, instead of working toward a solution that provides  the doorway out of this tunnel of darkness in which we are choosing to  live. But to go further, it is everyone in the world that has problems of some kind, not just a group persons in this country or another who seem to think only of themselves.

Today not only in the USA, but across the globe we fear many things. We fear not having enough money to support our families and our lives; we fear losing our freedom; we fear not having enough freedom or to even have any kind of freedom; we fear death and on the other side, we fear the inability to live the rest of our lives without control over our lives. How we live is of deep concern to us, for living well can be at many levels, such as ‘I can’t stand my spouse or boss or job’, ‘I can’t stand the choices I’ve made or the choices I wasn’t invited to make’ … That is, that we can’t stand the choices we’re forced to live with by family or job or community, and perhaps we also believe ourselves trapped … It goes on and on and it presents fear.)

What is very true is that to rid fear from running our lives, we must act and strive for something that takes us in the opposite direction of fear. And we frequently will believe that this requires running. It does not. And I believe we actually all know this, but somehow it can become difficult to change our direction for whatever reason.

Consider  this:  That fear  has you locked up in a tunnel.  A tunnel that you can barely move in; there is no turning around and going back because you can’t turn around.  There are no windows either…  It feels terrible and fatigue is all over your life.  It seems impossible to breath and yet you live in there.  Only two options are open to you:  To sit down and give up, or to somehow find your strength and go forward.  How to do it?   You’d ask for help but fear, this tunnel, has you in a vice.  Maybe you could try to ignore the situation, but that too fails because this claustrophobic thing keeps you inside the tunnel, and yet…  Disinterest  can drive the enemy away when we are productive.  Work!  I say work because industrious people solve problems… This eventually takes us forward out of this tunnel to the open air and the light.  Work…   Disney suggested through seven little conquerors (and to we workers alike) another useful few words:  “Whistle while you work.”  But that’s a quote for tomorrow.

“The only thing to fear is fear itself.”  What will we do with our fear?  Sit in it?  Not me and hopefully not you…  After all it takes less effort to whistle and work than to frown and sit in that vice of a tunnel and go nowhere. No fear, my friends, just like Past President Roosevelt hoped for our nation long ago.

May your work be fruitful and your smiles be abundant..


Carolyn Thomas Temple