I found this short film via Facebook friend Deborah Schaben. It’s the story of how a little known British morale-building poster from World War II with the simple slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” was rediscovered and has rapidly become a contemporary cultural icon. (The film uses the word “propaganda,” to describe the poster but I dislike that word because to me it always implies manipulation and deceit).
The narrator of the film remarks, “It is hard to say exactly why such a phrase from a bygone decade would have so much appeal and resonance now.” Actually, it isn’t hard to discover why at all. The narrator goes on to say, “Like a voice out of history, it offers a very simple warmhearted message to inspire confidence in others during difficult times, and it’s something that should never fade from fashion.” In other words, times are hard once again, and the courage and resolution needed to face those hard times never go out of style.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have tremendous respect and affection for my parents’ generation–the generation that came through The Great Depression and World War II–the generation that Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation in American history.” The British, of course, suffered even more than the Americans during World War II, facing constant air raids and the very real threat of invasion by their enemies. That generation of British and Americans possessed a courage that I fear my generation lacks. They did not have access to the tremendous number of luxuries and comforts that I do. They did not expect life to be easy. Unlike the vacuous pop idols and celebrities of today, they did not go on chat or “reality” TV shows whining and whimpering about the terrible sufferings they endured. Yet they did not fail to meet their challenges. They did what they had to do. They kept calm and carried on. I pray for the courage to follow their example.