Most people know Franklin Roosevelt is famous for his line in his 1933 Inaugural Address, “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” which he used to assuage our anxiety about the Great Depression, hoping to prevent financial panic.
But one of my favorite documents from American history is FDR’s 1941 State of the Union Address, where he once again addresses the nation’s rising anxiety levels, this time about the likely inevitability of WWII due to rising NAZI power & aggression.
I believe, especially with the ranker and rhetoric of intolerance, division, and security among Presidential candidates and Television punditry, FDR’s words are as applicable to the death cult of Da’esh (ISIL) and international terrorism as they were to the threat of fascism.
Plenty of people have already suggested that inflammatory rhetoric, and racist behavior (even latent) only serve as recruiting aids and catalysts for radicalization, but I contend that a proactive focus on positive principles will be more effective in diluting and defaming the power of terrorism than knee-jerk reactions of suspicion and hyper-nationalism.
Take a read, these words are as profound and poignant today as they ever were-
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
To that new order we oppose the greater conception–the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.
Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change–in a perpetual peaceful revolution–a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions–without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.
This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.