By Justin Dahlheimer, First National Bank of Osakis president

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

–President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

This line from FDR has always resonated with me when I feel anxious. I remember reading it out of a history book, given to me by my Grandpa Newman when I was 17 years old. I imagined a country finding out it was entering a foreign war that would alter the course of the world. I remember wondering what it felt like to face uncertainty like that.

Clearly, these are uncertain times. I think it is important to reflect on these wise words; that the fear churning in our minds, bubbling over in our trips to the stores, and blasting through our televisions and social media feeds is the only thing we should be afraid of. We control the creation of that fear. We can choose to not allow ourselves to participate in it and instead do the things that we need to do to help our community.

The greatest generation did just that when they enlisted to fight a foreign war, rationed our goods to help support our soldiers, and did things never done before because they trusted that it was necessary and would help our cause. The results of those uncertain times launched the most prosperous and dominant nation of people in the world.

The trying times are when we Americans have always risen to the challenge and innovated. I have no doubt that is the opportunity in front of us. We will learn new ways to get work done, help each other and advance forward.

Another appropriate quote from that same book my Grandpa gave me:

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

–President John F Kennedy, Jr.

Our government was not created to take care of its citizens, it was created to empower our citizens to take care of each other. JFK chose to challenge a divided country in the face of needed progress with a statement demanding duty to the freedom we are blessed with.

It is time to consider that statement again. We are not being asked to withdraw from helping one another. We are being asked to protect the vulnerable among us. And looking around this community, we are doing just that. There are so many people doing so many great things. If you need help, reach out to your neighbors, schools, churches, businesses and friends.

If you want to know how you can help, it’s simple:

  • Limit your interactions in public spaces for the time being. Make your trips purposeful, quick and keep distance physically between each other.

  • Use this opportunity to spend more time with your family and loved ones. Call friends. Get caught up on their lives by listening to their words and letting them know you are only a phone call away.

  • Take only what you need and help those vulnerable by working through our institutions to provide them the things they need. Don’t stop shopping or buying from our local businesses (PLEASE support them!), just do so in a manner that honors the guidelines expected of us.

  • Call before you head into the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. Have a conversation about the symptoms and know that we’d like to keep those places available for those in need of urgent care.

Every morning, before I walk out the door, I remind myself that these are the times that my grandchildren will be reading about. I want the stories to be ones of heroic unselfishness. A story about countries across the world coming together to solve a common threat. And while it may feel lonely to limit our physical interactions, in a way we’ve never been more connected.

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.

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