Fear Itself Does not make America First

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There was a U.S. President in the last century who came from a family of wealth.  He offered to the American people a statement for their consideration.  It may not have been any type of pompous executive order.  But it was definitely a little more hopeful than the current chaotic disruption that defines today’s White House as it had taken a clear stand against the unreasonable, over imagined fears people might harbor.

The idea was simple as much as it was reassuring: “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.”   We should remember that.  Reacting hysterically and irrationally to suggestions that the sky is falling will typically lead to rash, uninformed decisions.  And these decisions may vary dependent upon what side of the bed you get up on or from which direction the wind blows or what acorn happens to hit you on the head.  This is never a good thing.

Rather than inciting panic and taking advantage of the hidden fears that people might have, our President from the last century made a deliberate decision to instill hope into the hearts of people. We, as Americans, can meet any challenge.  And we can do it as Americans who believe in liberty and justice for all.  It is much different from the messages conveyed by rival totalitarian states or by the despotic tyrants our current President might admire and praise.  “And justice for all,” if you notice, is not justice for some; not justice for only Americans; it’s “and justice for all.”

America is not first because it hides its head in the sand.  America is not first because it embraces an isolationism like we tried to embrace before World War II.  America is not first because it denies evidence produced by scientific research or attempts to villainize scientists in the face of evidence that proves “the world is round and not flat.”  America is first because we believe in liberty and justice for all.  We are ready to meet any challenge and confront any foe who might want to threaten our liberty even if it comes from within.

Our principals are based upon traditions of tolerance and empathetic religious influences that encourages us to reach out to others, promoting our ideals of freedom, liberty and justice to all nations even when it means there is a chance that the freedom we advocate might cause deranged people to take advantage of our generosity and our openness.  It may even cause them to try to attack us.  But we need to take that risk.   Without that balance pragmatism we are no better off than the many despotic, autocratic countries in the world afraid of their own shadows and paranoid that around every corner is the next boogieman.   Those types of countries are perfectly willing to sacrifice liberty and justice in order to preserve their presumed security.

“America First” is not a notion that needs to be promoted if you really believe in America.  In fact, that slogan should be avoided if you are true to what really makes America great.  That idea about being “first” was tried by the Nazi’s when it was “Germany first” and it was that exact slogan of “America First” that was herald by Nazi sympathizers here in America before World War II.  Any historian with the most meager of credentials will tell you just how much isolationist ideas contributed to the events that led up to World War II.  Had those ideas been kept in check there is a good chance World War II could have been avoided.

So, we know, from the lessons of history and reinforced by centuries old biblical lessons (i.e. Matthew 20:16), the idea that we should turn selfishly inward to be “first” will certainly only make us last. Refocusing on what really is important about America; making liberty and justice first, working on projects that are not exclusively about ourselves, doing things for others, being the good neighbor, like we always have done in the past, is the only way America keeps its position as the leader of the free world.  It is the only way that America can be first.  It is the only way America will be first.

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