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Carry On?


It looks good on a coffee mug or maybe a tee shirt. It’s an inspiring motto I suppose. Catchy. Easy to remember. First appeared on a poster. Part of a campaign. Maybe you’d call it political propaganda. The intent was to keep a nation, the United Kingdom, steady in the wake of war. “Keep Calm and Carry On” the slogan read. Hmm. Did you get that “war” part? Your city is about to be bombed. Keep calm. Really?! There could be airstrikes near you. Carry on. Seriously?!

Some people just seem to be naturally wired to stay calm no matter what’s happening around them. Grounded, we might say of them. Easy-going. Unflappable. Steady. Like a rock. Others – we all know them – are highly excitable. Volatile. Emotional, we might say of them (although we all have that stuff inside us). While the first group will indeed keep calm while the tornado sirens are blaring, the second puts a different spin on the “carry on” part by indeed carrying on and on with no lack of drama or intensity. Fortunately for life on the planet, there’s a sizeable percentage of the population that falls somewhere in between. Pretty steady. Appropriately alarmed. One foot in front of the other kind of people. Although at times life dishes out some stuff that stops them in their tracks. Don’t quote the catchy motto to them at that point in time. Carry on? You’ve got to be kidding!

Some people handle chaos more calmly than others. They may shrug and take it in stride as part of life. Think of several children tearing around an indoor play area squealing if not screaming at the top of their lungs. Delightful chaos but chaos, nonetheless. Or a traffic jam at a major intersection in a major city with horns honking, fists flying, expletives erupting. First world chaos but chaos, nonetheless. Or the horrifying scene of a horrific multi-vehicle accident which draws rescuers like furiously fluttering moths to a light, recklessly, desperately salvaging every shred of life to be found. Helpless yet hopeful, life-and-death human chaos but chaos, nonetheless. Carry on? Come on.

Keep calm and carry on. A noble sentiment. But is it realistic when the out-of-control curveball crashes into you? That may constitute a walk to first base in baseball but likely leads to a near collapse in real life. The storms are coming although we may not know when. The strikes might be just ahead around the bend. Is there anything or anyone equal to their destructive power? If so, I’d vote for being carried on and on, thank you very much.

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