Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Fear and Hate

In his first inaugural address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously warned: “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.”

Most Americans don’t recall a warning by Ann Landers, who wrote: "Hate is like acid.  It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured."  Ann Landers was a pen name used by advice columnist Ruth Crowley in the 1940’s and 50’s.

The two excerpts below are from remarks made by Robert F. Kennedy on April 5, 1968. 

“When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.”

...“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all.  We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others.  We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.”

A favorite tactic of Republicans has been fear-mongering, because it seems to be the only argument available to them.  Fear was used by the Bush administration to scare Congress and the American people into a war that cost over 4,000 American lives to remove a bad man.

President Bush insisted: “We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice asserted: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapon, but we don’t want the smoking to be a mushroom cloud.”

In “Superpatriotism,” Michael Parent points out: “Once fear takes hold, evidence becomes largely irrelevant.”  

Today, the question remains, are we still going to allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear?  Our democracy requires calm, dependable, pragmatic and reasonable voters.


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