THE FEAR THAT FDR SPOKE ABOUT IS STILL USED TO FRIGHTEN GOOD PEOPLE INTO SILENCE, AND THOSE NOT-SO-GOOD INTO A USE OF FEAR THAT I THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER SEE AGAIN. It was the use of fear that made possible a system of racial segregation in the USA that was contradictory to Constitutional principles, at variance with serious Biblical interpretation, violated the inclusive love of Jesus and trampled upon the principles of fair play that were at the heart of what it means to be fully human.
I could not have imagined that the use and manipulation of fear that made possible the long night of racial segregation that my foreparents and I and millions of persons of African descent endured in this "sweet land of liberty", would be so fully alive in 2010. Yet the "fear of fear" has become a "political tool" that is used within Church and society, regardless of where we stand on a conservative to liberal spectrum.
I was born 8 months after Franklin Delano Rossevelt delivered his March 4, 1933 first inaugural address. FDR in his speech said this; "This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my 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."
We as a nation affirmed and tolerated racial segregation for so long because the manipulators of fear convinced so many that "blood would flow in the streets", a precious "way of life would be destroyed", and the USA would fail, if "racial integration" became an "accepted way of life." The untruth, the falsehood and the lie of these projections and predictions becomes self evident each and every day. From the thousands of illustrations of children of all races playing and studying with each other, the affirmation of racial diversity in Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, on tennis courts and golf courses, on stages and movie screens, in the workplace, in the military, in the three branches of government, in the White House and in the United Methodist Church; the fear of racial desegregation and integration has been overcome.
Yet, apparently we have not celebrated and affirmed our movement from racial slavery and racial segregation to racial integration enough. The "Merchants of Fear" (not Venice) have resurrected the old fears of racial integration and translated them into a fear of "the negatives that would happen" if conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, Tea Party people and anti-Tea Party people found ways to work together rather than to fear each other. We have not remembered or acknowledged the positives of our movement from racial segregation to racial integration. Rather we have allowed the re-birth of old fears to express themselves in new ways.
Roosevelt spoke of fear as being, "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
On Tuesday November 2nd as we vote, will we vote our fears, or our faith in what the USA has become and can become if we stop fearing fear?