Fear Paralyzes Advancement


At the peak of the Great Depression President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered these well-known words at his inauguration on March 4, 1933: “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.”
Last week the World Health Organization identified a new Covid-19 variant called “omicron.” They labelled it a “variant of concern” due to the possibility of an increased risk of infection compared to other variants. Even though the danger posed by the new variant is not yet fully understood, governments throughout the world immediately restricted travel to southern Africa. In addition, the stock market plummeted on Friday, and news stations cautioned the public that Christmas celebrations might be restricted.
Roosevelt warned us about reacting in this way. He warned us about fear born of the unknown that goes against what we know by reason and faith. Such fear paralyzes societies and leads to greater harm. In February 2020 the risks and dangers of the Covid virus were unknown. As a result, governments issued social distancing and lockdowns. This is not February 2020. We know a lot more about the virus today. We have vaccines and other medications. Already Pfizer and Moderna have announced that they are ready to adapt their vaccination shots to the new variant if necessary.
While it is not 1933, Roosevelt’s message remains perennial. Acting on fear based on the unknown paralyzes advancement.


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