The only thing to fear

We are in this together, and we are smart and strong.

Isn’t it hard to believe that just a week ago so few of us could have imagined how topsy-turvy so many things could get so fast?

And yet, here we all are—adjusting to dramatic changes, and facing uncertainty. Of course this is unsettling. Of course we find ourselves anxious, and find unexpected strain on our mental health. But we are in this together, and we are acting based on the best guidance of our health science for the purpose of saving lives. This is an opportunity for us to show how strong and how united we are—and strength in unity is one of the best medicines to bolster our mental health. 

As a lover of the many high points in American history, I’ve been thinking about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address in January 1933, when he was sworn in as president in the depths of the Great Depression. He famously began by saying: “First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

We live in a land of great plenty. Spring is nearly upon us. We will get through this, one day after the next, showing our kindness and consideration—and we will come out stronger on the other side, rededicated to making sure that the land’s great plenty provides enough for all with equity.

FDR went on to say: “These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.” Indeed. Let us minister to ourselves with compassion. Make each moment our medicine. And turn resolutely to minister to each other, keeping each other strong from one end of the day to another.

Breathe. Be kind. Let the warm sun and fresh air fill you with certainty.  

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Vincent Atchity


P.S. Inspiring words from even darker times can be a comfort. Follow this link for full text and audio of FDR’s famous speech.

“If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we cannot merely take, but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline.

We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike.”