The latest of the Ken Burns documentaries on KCPT features the Roosevelt families and their very public journeys in overcoming fear of physical and psychological limitations, political failure, bullies, financial setbacks and the loss of loved ones. FDR’s quote about having nothing to fear but fear itself not only bolstered up people facing a depression and a world war in his time but can have meaning for those of us living now. Fear itself is the most fearful thing because it can causes us to remain inert and in paralysis instead of taking appropriate action.
Overcoming any kind of fear requires us first to look something threatening in the face and seek to understand what it is. Whether the thing feared is cancer, public speaking, or terrorists, knowledge prepares us for action that can be taken. The next factor is purpose. Understanding what we value can be a strong motivator in facing and overcoming something when we feel unsure of our capabilities.
No matter how well we defend, in life as in ballgames, eventually we are required to do something. In the doing we actually act ourselves into feelings of courage and confidence. The old philosophical theory of action flowing from being may actually be true in the converse of being following action. Many heroes do not say that they at first had feelings of courage. They say that they simply “did my job,” In most of our lives it is the daily doing of what is called for when it needs to be done that results in living in confidence rather than in fear.