Short factoid Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People was written and published during the depths of the depression in the early 1930s. David Brooks, an op-ed writer for the NYT discusses an unusual dynamic, or rather loss of dynamic, evident in the culture of the U.S. at this moment in time. "We are now in an astonishingly noncommercial moment. Risk is out of favor. The financial world is abashed. Enterprise is suspended. The public culture is dominated by one downbeat story after another as members of the educated class explore and enjoy the humiliation of the capitalist vulgarians." FDR's perhaps most famous quote was "We have nothing to fear but fear itself.: In my sophomoric approach to life I had always assumed that when he said that he was talking about the national mood during the undertaking of World War II. Now, at this moment I am wondering whether he was referring to the need to adopt a positive face and attitude during the depression era. So, I have done my homework and find that FDR made this statement during his inaugural address when assuming the presidency in 1932. In short, he was talking about the depression. The statement is set forth here; "I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. 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. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
The above is set forth as a prequel to an adroit response made to my last blog by my daughter Mandy. To characterize the last blog I was puzzled by the anger contained within the hearts and minds of some of my conservative friends at a recent golf trip. Mandy responded thusly: "People . . . only get weirder when it comes to money - especially losing it. What you perceived as anger - is FEAR. Everyone is afraid right now. They have every right to be. Unfortunately Americans want to point a finger at one person (whoever is currently President) rather than taking the blame themselves. What the middle class folks are forgetting is that Obama is president because those who had more to lose (like their only house, their only income, etc - not just a vacation home or a pension) voted, too. Obama is taking a risky stand just like Lincoln did, and just like FDR did to get us out of a bad situation. Enough Americans believed that the status quo wouldn't be enough so took the chance on a change. Yes, it's risky and yes the good ole boy republicans hate there's a black man calling all the shots. But taking it out on you on the golf course is the only place they can do that safely anymore. Don't hate them, just pray for your fearful friends. Mandy." Enough said. p.s. Mandy, Happy Birthday and thanks for the gift of your thoughtfulness.