Keep calm and carry on?
Posted by Simon Parke, 23 June 2017, 5.26am
‘Keep calm and carry on’.
It’s a classic (and much re-worked) line from WW2.
I’m told the posters were never actually used during the war; but some were printed, and have found a full life since on cups and T-shirts the world over.
But could the line be better?
It feels like a crime even to suggest it, almost a blasphemy.
And it has a wonderful alliterative simplicity and power, so full marks for style.
Well, maybe honesty is better than calm.
The thing is, if we are not calm inside - and most of us are not, most of the time - then being told to present as calm is not helpful in the long-term.
Yes, we can do it for a while, play the stoic, the calm presence, the strong tree.
We may even begin to believe it ourselves. I meet this a lot.
But the victory of outward presentation over inner reality is not one to celebrate.
It’s a habit that leads to the discrete repression of true feeling which is a path towards depression…and quite often, outbursts of un-calm and reactive anger.
‘Stay honest about your feelings without judgement - and carry on.’
This is a kinder, more aware version of the strap line.
It doesn’t have the same alliterative power as the famous ‘stiff upper lip’ original.
But it is a more authentic lantern to walk by as we step out into this present and mysterious dark.