“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequite…”
The self-help movement tends to “help-itself” to nearly everything these days, and pilfering words and phrases from the truly great is not uncommon. Take Michail Gorbachov, who is known by the statement: “If not now, then when?/If not us, then whom?” Words taken from the Jewish Talmud and often attributed to Moses Maimonides a Greek scholer.
While Marianne Williamson may believe that she is the first to use the phrase: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequite” I believe the wording comes from a much earlier text on Love by Ovid. It is not out of the bounds of reason that Madiba may have read such a work whilst incarcarated in prison. Whatever the truth, words spoken by statesmen of Mandela’s calibre seem to be recorded for posterity while those attributed to cheap self-help manuals do not.