During his first inauguration speech in 1933, former President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt used a phrase that has since then been often quoted and in many cases encouraged us all ever since: “The only thing to fear is fear itself”. That statement was made during a time in our history called “the great depression”, a time when life was at best a grim affair and at worst lining up at soup kitchens by the hundreds and thousands just to keep body and soul together. Most people who were born after 1980 have no concept of what it must have been like in the succeeding years during which soldiers from several countries fought during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, to name a few. Unfortunately, history does tend to repeat itself, but always with a slightly new twist as our knowledge and technology continues to change and grow.
Today we face a number of major challenges that no one saw coming all those years ago. It seems like many countries overseas are again in upheaval, this time including Russia and China to name a few. And as if that isn’t challenge enough, we are currently facing two possible health pandemics, one that seems to be targeting children and the other that is apparently not age specific but is twice as deadly. People are just now realizing that we are in the middle of more challenges than we have faced in decades. These types of situations tend to engender fear in even the most brave of us, making it that much more difficult to move forward with life as usual. And some of us find ourselves giving into fear despite assurances that things are being dealt with by the experts. But, if there is one thing most of us have learned in all the time we in the US have been a united nation, it’s that we don’t give up, ever. Letting fear stop us from living the lives we want is not an option. When backed into a corner, that wonderful American stubborn streak that helped to make us an independent nation tends to surface, and rather than retreating, we tend to push forward no matter what.
That spirit has been one of the reasons we are all still here and moving forward. We have carried that spirit to other countries in countless ways, whether passing on our knowledge of construction or irrigation or teaching the latest medical knowledge. We have passed on our knowledge and our spirit to others in the hopes that someday everyone will be able to finally transform fear into courage – the courage to keep moving forward, no matter what.