Keep Calm and Carry On

June 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

A friend gave me a hand stamped “thinking of you” card that said, “Keep calm and carry on.” A veddy, veddy English accent resounds in my brain, as I repeat the phrase to myself … “keddy on …”

Wikipedia tells me that this was a phrase thought up by the British government’s Ministry of Information in World War II.  A reporter named Bagehot writing in The Economist  said that the original phrase “taps directly into the country’s mythic image of itself: unshowily brave and just a little stiff, brewing tea as the bombs fall.”

Never widely used during the war, the slogan was found on a poster in a second-hand bookstore owned by Stuart and Mary Manley in Alnwick, Northumberland in 2000. Now in public domain, it is turning up on cups, cards and all manner of merchandising. A parody of the phrase is also appearing that says, “Now Panic and Freak Out.”

Good advice. It’s wise to know when to keep calm and carry on and when to freeeeaaaaak!

Haven’t we all been in situations where the only and best thing to do is to keep calm? I’m thinking of a few.

  • I’m in a single-engine airplane over the Beaufort Sea, bordering the Arctic Ocean, when the gas tank registers empty, the overloaded plane drops precipitously close to the broken ice chunks and freezing water below. (The rest of the story later, but I’m still here.)
  • An attacking polar bear is shot directly in the path I would have been walking a minute earlier if I hadn’t remembered something and run back into our house to retrieve it.
  • I’m driving a three-dog team in a race heading out away from the village on ocean ice and the dogs aren’t obeying a single command I give them.

I’ve also freaked.

  • Freaked and pounded on my husband’s back yelling, “Let me off!” as he points the snowmobile straight down a mountain in Greenland.
  • Freaked out and white lipped and convinced that I will actually die at sea during many wind-whipped boat passages on Barkley Sound.

But, mostly, I’ve found it doesn’t pay to freak. Carrying on, doing the next thing, seems to yield the best results. And keeping calm? It’s not always visible on the outside, and only my blood pressure knows for sure. In these days of natural disasters, E.coli outbreaks, stock market plunges, wars and rumors of wars, economic uncertainties, I sometimes need a little help keeping calm. Jesus spoke of a peace that the world doesn’t give. That’s what I need to “keddy on.”

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011

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