Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself…
I think when historians look back on our time, in a hundred years or so, they will label it the age of fear and stress. The media, social and paid, feed society with one tragedy or future catastrophe after another. Trump-haters vs Trump-lovers; nuclear bomb threats; terrorist attacks; cataclysmic earth changes; racism; serial killers; economic collapse; and war are thrown at society daily and almost all of us fall into the trap of thinking “we should do something about that. We need to read and be prepared. We need to speak out let people know we are angry or afraid.”
Here’s the sad reality, those are all issues that are outside of your sphere of influence. They are big, really big, huge issues that neither you, nor I, nor your neighbor have any control over and the people that are feeding you news, keeping you distracted and on edge know it. These stresses, distractions and fears keep a large swathe of society from truly being free to live a life of love, liberty and creativity. The fear and stresses drag on the mind, make people weary without even knowing it. It’s the global gaslighting, and domestic abuse, of society as a whole and just like an abused spouse (girlfriend, boyfriend) sometimes we feel as if there is no way out. No way to change our circumstances. Let me share with you a portion of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural speech, I think it will show how times have changed:
“This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. 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 such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things… Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment. Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for… We now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well…”
Today we are fed fear daily without the comfort of a true leader reminding us of the things that are important; the things we have control of and can influence. The reality is we are a small people, living in an increasingly small world and the actions we take today will eventually influence the future; they are pebbles in a pond and will ripple off into the future for good or ill. It’s what we can do in the face of an ocean of problems we cannot affect.
Here are some thoughts, some ideas, of small pebbles you can toss in the water that might make the future better for your children or grandchildren. (Yeah… it’ll take that long, but we have to start somewhere.) These are simple things, inexpensive things, and the kinds of actions that might never be acknowledged but you will know… and that’s enough.
There is a child in your children’s school that isn’t getting enough food. The teacher very likely knows which ones. Send protein bars with your child and a note to the teacher asking that they be given out as an after-school snack to whoever the teacher feels might need something.
There is a child, or five, on your kid’s sports team that is wearing secondhand shoes that don’t fit and keep them from performing as well as the other children. Ask the coach to organize a donation fund from all of the parents, that are financially able, to give an extra ten or twenty bucks to support the equipment needs of the kids that just want to play. Whatever is left can go into the year-end party.
There is a nice family from another culture living on your block, or in your church, or at your place of work. Invite them to dinner, get to know them, or just spend some time talking to them. You’ll be surprised how much you have in common. The same desires for family, friends, and peace.
There is a family in your community, or like mine many families, that lives in their car or a tent because the cost of housing is higher than their jobs will cover. Clean out your closet and donate the clothes you no longer need to a homeless shelter. Volunteer to tutor at a local community college or community center and show the youth that through education and perseverance a more stable life is possible.
There is a woman that you know, statistically almost guaranteed, dealing with abuse in her home. She feels abandoned, neglected, alone in her pain. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you see the haunted look in her eyes, let your instincts guide you and never assume someone is happy behind a fake smile. You don’t have to save them, just let them know that they aren’t alone, that they are special and deserve more. If you have a human resources board at your place of business, post your local domestic abuse hotline number for all to see. If help is asked for, do what you can.
Go to your local discount store and spend twenty bucks on plastic bags, hand sanitizer samples, tissue paper, and a protein bar of some kind. Build kits to hand out to the person on the street corner, or homeless person on the street, asking for money. Give them away freely, you don’t know their story but the kits will give them food and cleanliness.
One last thing, and it’s probably the hardest thing to do. Know that you are a strong, special and worthy person in your own right. Provide an example to those around you that disrespect, abuse either verbal or physical, harassment in the workplace, or even general rudeness, is not acceptable. Know that you are worth being treated as an equal, with all of the caring, dignity and honor that you show others. Passive acceptance, or even simply ignoring disrespectful behavior is a slippery slope that ends in disaster. Look where, “boys will be boys” has led us… into a culture of violence and date-rape, a male dominated society instead of one that utilizes the strengths of both genders equally. Don’t be afraid to speak out.
If you have other ideas, and they are legion, of small gestures that might ripple off into the future and make the world a better place for everyone, feel free to comment on this post and share what you think would help. We, as individuals, can’t stop wars or hurricanes, terrorists or nuclear bombs, but we can show each other we care on person at a time, one gesture at a time. Thank you FDR for reminding us, from the distance of time, that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.