Fearing the unknown

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, during his inauguration:

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm 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. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

One of the most oft-quoted phrases from any presidential speech in the history of our country, and the one piece that stands out among others is “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. No one ever quotes the second portion of that message:

“nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Roosevelt was clearing saying fear was making matters in the country worse.

FDR had no idea just how time and tide would serve to amplify that particular emotion, how easily and mightily the country would turn upon itself.

We’re there. Divided. One half of the country is celebrating and the other fearing an unheard of victory. A man who many believed has no business in the most powerful position, has been elected to guide our country forward.

Forward. Into the great unknown of the future. And that, my dear friends, is where the fear is rooted.

When Barack Obama was elected, we had a glimpse of what he was capable of as a politician. We also knew the man was intelligent, rational, and fair. For various reasons, many did not like the man. But, for the most part, Obama was a politician and that was a devil we all knew. Politicians did political things. In other words, they cast their nets out to collect as many fish as possible.

Fish being votes, in case you didn’t catch that bad analogy.

We can even cast our memory back a bit further to George W. Bush.  With him, we knew what we were getting and there was little to fear (until Cheney took the puppet strings).

And now we have 2016. The year of fear. We’d already lost so much. David Bowie. Prince. It seemed every day we were waking up to find out we’d lost yet another icon. And so America was already in a hyper-nervous state, such that when the election roared into a full head of steam, we were ready to punch, spit, kick, and claw our way through that curtain of fear.

None of us thought Trump had a chance. In fact, some assumed he ran for the office just to ensure that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, would be elected. That was a conspiracy theorist’s dream come true. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the unknown was elected. And in the electing of that unknown, fear coalesced into shape and half the country went fetal.

Seconds ticked by and which each tick of the clock a new revelation came to fruition.

“He won’t appeal Obamacare”

“He’s unsure what he’ll do with Obamacare”

“He won’t deport immigrants”

“He’s going to deport 2-3 million immigrants”

With every breath from the blistering mouth of the media, we were given yet another lead to, forgive my saying so, trump the previous. And so, even post-election, we still have no idea what we are up against.

I’ve made a public statement recently, one that I don’t back down from. I want the man to succeed. To beg for his failure is to wish failure upon this country. But that doesn’t mean I want the policies that served as a campaign platform to be realized. What I want is to have been wrong about him all along. That logic and common sense will win out and our President-elect will not pull the trigger on the litany of hate-filled promises he made to his base. In fact, I truly hope he swings about and winds up, in wholesale fashion, disappointing his base with that unabashed arrogance (the only known we truly have with this man).

I have to think that a businessman, one of any merit, would know you cannot take a product or service in diametric opposition to its current trajectory without massive backlash. That would not only be political suicide, it would be detrimental to the country as a whole.

I would like to think.

But that’s the problem. So many of us have been applying logic and reason to a situation where neither really do factor in. Because of this, we exist in a vacuum of unknown. Over half of the citizens in this country are in complete darkness as to where the United States is heading.

And that, my friends, is frightening.

  • Will we collapse financially? We don’t know.
  • Will we implode socially? No idea.
  • Will we spontaneously combust civilly? Magic 8-ball says “unknown”.

I strongly believe that FDR was partially right. But if I were his speech writer, I would probably have amended that famous quote to read:

The only thing we have to fear, is the fear of the unknown.

It would have then been his responsibility to put the hearts and minds of America to rest in reminding them of the known.

Unfortunately, our known doesn’t do us much good; so our fear is twofold. We fear the unknown and the known. That is why we, as a country, are struck numb. We know the wrong people are being appointed to the most powerful positions in our country and we have no idea what they will do with that power.

I’m afraid. You’re afraid. And in this time of unknown, the only thing we can do is lean on the known…each other. For the next four years, the only certainty is we are all in this together. I have your back and you have mine. If we make that pledge, we can survive…however the unknown unfolds. And as that massive unknown makes itself known, we have to shove apathy out of the way, keep truth in the forefront, hold our leaders up to a very high standard, and ensure our media beholds itself to one and only one bottom line. Us.