“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address
This oft-quoted statement by Franklin Delanor Roosevelt has earned a lofty place in the annals of history. While offered up as a pedigreed insight, it is in fact an oxymoron - a Gordian knot bereft of the bold followup that would unravel its chokehold.
Fear is fear whether triggered by a lion chasing you across the veld or a response to an imagined threat with no rational basis. Fearing fear in and of itself is the same as feeling fear with a distinct cause attached to it.
Fear has the same function for the mind as pain to the body. Bodily pain is a physiological language developed to call attention to an imbalance in the form. Fear is a red flag that informs a person that that his or her perception is a distortion of the "what is." Some clever being once used an acronym to nail it: F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.
Then again, there is no such thing as free-floating fear - or anxiety, its first cousin. The phenomenon that resembles a stinkweed in full bloom has its roots in an event, buried though it may be in the sediments of time. The bold person experiencing fear knows to look more deeply into the causative factors rather than suppressing it with drugs, alcohol, unhealthy co-dependency, or other escapist strategies.
The key is to nourish the feeling of fear with insight and relaxed contemplation... and voila! The Gordian Knot is liberated from its convolutions. FDR, could we revise your worthy attempt to say, "There is nothing to fear?"