no fear!
As an individual who spent his entire teenage years in the 1990s, I was exposed to countless “NO FEAR” shirts.  To be honest, I always found them to be mildly amusing.  Take this one for example:
"Bottom of the Ninth, Down by Three, Bases Loaded, Full Count, Two outs
                                    NO FEAR"
As a kid reading this at first blush, I thought it was everybody’s dream scenario to have the chance to step up to the plate and be the hero and win the game with a home run.  However, I then realized that the weight of the situation and the fear of failure could easily cause one to have fear.  I guess the key to accepting that opportunity was to first embrace the mentality of “NO FEAR.”
Recently, I enjoyed listening to an interview with Nik Wallenda, from the family known as the “Flying Wallendas.” Nik has made quite the name for himself performing many stunts that most are just scared to watch.  He has walked on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, skyscrapers, and an active volcano.  Of him, it might be said that he truly has
During the interview, he shared that each human being is naturally born with two fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling.  All other fears are then learned.  Any internet search of “phobias” proves that we are all really good at acquiring additional fears.
What was most interesting during this interview is that Nik Wallenda describes a paradigm shift that he has made in his own life.  He boldly stated that he doesn’t have any fear; instead of having fear, he had respect for situations and circumstances.  So rather than having a fear of heights or falling, he had respect for the law of gravity and worked hard to prepare for the successful completion of a stunt.
Since we are living in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, I think it is important that we not live in fear, but instead live our lives in such a way that we have respect for the reality of the situation at hand.  Now is not the time to quit or disengage from Rotary.  Instead, now is the time to explore new ways in which we can still be involved in Rotary and make a difference. 
The word “courage” appears to be a combination of two French words. “Cour” means “heart” and “age” comes from “agir,” which means “to act.”  So to have “courage” is truly to “act from the heart.”  As Rotarians, the world needs us to have respect for the situation at hand, but still find ways to provide Service Above Self.  That ideal takes courage because it requires us to act from the heart.
This year’s theme is “Rotary Opens Opportunities.”  Thank you for showing “NO FEAR” and taking advantage of the opportunities we each have to show both our courage and respect for the situation at hand.  And that is the power of Rotary: “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change across the globe in our communities and in ourselves.”
Ben Nelson '20-'21 District 5400 Governor