How odd that the meme of moment is a tongue-in-cheek plea to settle down and stop acting up. But it’s perfect, because acting up and acting out is part of the American psychological profile, or maybe it’s just mine.
So hey, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
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Only in the last year have I begun to see this phrase appear on the Internet. However, in recent months it seems to have gone to a whole new level, where every iteration imaginable of the phrase is being used.
I’ve seen everything from “Keep Calm and Listen to Bad Religion” in honor of the godfathers of SoCal punk, to “Keep Calm and Drool Over Tatum Channing.”
There’s “Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate,” “Keep Calm and Join the Dark Side,” “Keep Calm and Put it on Facebook.” There’s one for every occasion.
It’s a decidedly American phrase for the moment, with a decidedly British background nearly 80 years old. The original slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” is a piece of World War II positive propaganda meant to ease the loyal British subjects’ unease over the Blitzkrieg and the continued Nazi Luftwaffe air raids over Europe.
This nugget of a bygone era was hibernating for many years until it re-emerged around 2000 when an Englishmen found an original poster in a box of books he purchased at an auction.
The “Keep Calm” campaign apparently was not widely known until recently. The slogan had limited distribution by the Crown and was never displayed publically.
Yet here we are. It’s “Keep Calm’s” world; we’re all just living in it.
I’m hung up on the idea of keeping calm, not for the history of the origins or the ubiquity of the symbol. Rather, it’s the idea that “Keep Calm” and “add whatever you want” is a subliminal road map that can’t do anything but promote serenity, peace and good vibrations.
It’s taking hold and is popular not only for the utility of being able to add whatever one wants, finds funny or ironic, or enjoys. But I also believe it’s that rare widespread mass appeal reminder cloaked as pop culture to chill out.
Most of the time I feel like I’m enveloped in a thin sheath of red hot anger, or that it’s an electrical field just millimeters beneath the surface of my skin, waiting to be primed and explode through the surface. Unfortunately, many around me understand this and either make fun of it, or fear it.
For me it manifests itself because of stress, when I’m tired, insecure, uncertain about my place in something or a decision I’ve made. It starts to build and burn when I feel threatened, weak, even when I’m worried about someone else and I can’t fix their predicament.
It happens when life happens.
Anger is the easiest emotion to get in touch with. Think about how easy it is to write an angry email, or passionately describe in detail your feelings and reactions to something that has enraged you.
Turn that idea around; think about what it is like to write about love and positivity and happiness. For many, the hippy dippy comes out in big, broad nebulous terms, and to go any deeper requires a level of understanding and processing that is more difficult.
Anger, on the other hand, is like a gun on your hip, with one in chamber and the safety off. Positivity and a sunny disposition is the diamond to get to after eons of compressing a lump of coal.
I want the diamonds; they’re not just a girl’s best friend. But to get them, I have to find peace, I have to mine my head and my heart for the softer touch and the smarter, more rational decision and reaction that lays two or three moves ahead.
To get those diamonds, I need to keep calm — “Keep Calm and Carry On.”