All We Have To Fear Is Fear of Ourselves

There doesn’t seem to be an English word for everything that a man experiences in a lifetime. It is a pity; such a word would often come in handy because it takes a long time to consider the lifetime of experience of an old man. There is, of course, an English word for ‘being afraid of’ and that word is fear. In the nation that is the richest of all nations, one would conclude that the word fear would not be a common a part of the vocabulary but it is. The word fear has been used extensively in recent Presidential elections and the 2008 Presidential election is no exception; ‘fear’ appears to be the key to the Republican Party campaign. 

One Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney, appeared on television warning Americans of the imminent dangers of Islamic-fascist terrorists and that all Americans, including me, should fear for our lives and being. Mr. Romney did not impress me. He did cause me to think about all the fear that I have experienced in my considerable lifetime as a citizen of the United States of America.

Fortunately, contrary to Mr. Romney’s lifetime experience, I have seldom had reason fear anything, and currently I do not have a fear of Islamic-fascists, though I have experienced considerable concern (near fear) about the policy of the current American Christian-fascist President. I do, however, feel sorry for Mr. Romney, because the stark fear that he describes takes so much (seven years, now) of the pleasure out of life; Mr. Romney must be miserable. Perhaps that is what prompted him to run for President; if a person is miserable, he might as well be President of the United States in its present state of chaos.

The greatest fear encountered in my lifetime, was the unprovoked attack on my democratic Republic by Japan, in 1941, and the subsequent declaration of war against America by Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Though young at the time, I do remember wondering how the people of Germany and Japan could be convinced that aggression and war against America and the rest of the world could be justified and meet with their approval; the last seven years of President Bush and his preemptive wars has enlightened me and provided the answer to that mystery. Now, I understand.

As a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans felt extremely vulnerable. America had lost the battle but not the war. Many American lives were lost; the dead were neighbors, sons, friends, and ‘the kid next door’. Americans shared their sorrow and they shared their fear, a genuine fear. The only immediate good news of that time was, not the news of a great victory, it was a familiar voice over the radio saying, “The only think we have to fear, is fear itself.” It was a reassuring promise of the President of the United States.

Of course, Americans in 1941 had good reason to be afraid and the words of a President did not alleviate the fear. But President Roosevelt gave Americans hope and promise and with that, America persevered against a formable World War II foe that possessed weapons of mass destruction, and left Europe and Asia in shambles.

When WWII ended, fear left with it. However, America did wonder how it could possibly contend with the people of Germany, Japan, and Italy who were our hated enemy. Soon, Americans and the world came to realize that those people, who were our despised enemy, were simply ordinary people; this then caused us to wonder how inventive, productive ordinary people could have been turned into fanatic war-mongering maniacs. It could never happen in the democratic Republic of America, we said.

Thus it is that after due consideration of the issues, our wars, and Mr. Romney, I have concluded that in America, we have nothing to fear but ourselves.

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