Lately I’ve been seeing a flurry of posters, t-shirts and mugs emblazoned with a crown and the slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On.” According to Wikipedia, this was a part of a “propaganda” campaign in the UK, started in 1939, to keep up morale during WWII.
This poster was to be used only in the event of an invasion, and consequently was never issued. Here’s a website dedicated to the slogan: http://www.keepcalmandcarryon.com/history/ It’s believed that most of the posters were pulped at the end of the war. But a bookseller found one nearly 60 years later, and the rest is marketing history. Now you can buy “wall art” at Target with the advertising slogan on it, not to mention mobile phone cases, tea towels and cozies at the website above.
The quintessential Britishness has its own appeal, stiff upper lip and all that, what? But I think this campaign has taken off because the message resonates for a lot of us. The past year was not a fun one in many ways. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and the middle class clung by its fingernails to a shrinking way of life. Wars, disasters and scares shook us all.
Sometimes all we can do is keep calm and carry on. Keep looking for a job. Put up with disappointment and stress. Just carry on. And sometimes things do get better, good things come, happiness happens. Life may never be the way it was before. But it’s still a life. And if we take it with a dose of irony and a side of laughter, we can carry on.