Or, to quote FDR’s 1933 first inaugural address precisely and in context, “…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.”
Consider also Fear’s running mates: Hate, Bigotry, and Ignorance; they feed upon and amplify the whole. As they are doing in the current manifestations of Ebola, racism, homophobia—even the simple act of casting one’s vote.
For example: The Arizona Daily Independent recently quoted one A.J. La Faro who observed early balloting in August, “behind bullet-proof glass because of the violence and protesting that occurred by militant groups during the November, 2012, General Election [sic].” What he saw that day, and what anyone can see from the video posted online, was a Latino male entering in with a number of sealed early votes to put into the ballot box.
La Faro stated, “I don’t know if that person in the video is an illegal alien, a dreamer, or a citizen. What I do know is that he was a vulgar, disrespectful, violent thug who has no respect for our laws. I would have followed him to the parking lot to take down his tag number, but I feared for my life.”
Was La Faro really terrified, or outraged that a person of color was helping others cast their legal ballots? Was he ignorant, manipulative, or truly in the grip of Roosevelt’s “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror?”
Those specters haunted FDR’s world on the cusp of World War II and plague us today. Ebola is real. Ebola is terrifying. But it can only be transmitted in certain, specific ways, and can, as has been shown in example of Nigeria, that WHO (World Health Organization) has declared Ebola-free, be contained.
While shoring up our own medical defenses, reasoned fear—for Ebola is a killer—dictates that we must do all we can to stem the tide of disease in the African countries where it is still rampant.
Fear was programmed into humankind, it has kept us alive, while outright hysteria, or fear manipulated to inflame others, will be futile at best, or, potentially, lethal for all.