Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New motto

I dislike hyperbole. I dislike having the sense that I am being manipulated, being made to feel a particular way. I particularly dislike the way things are presented in the news to day (especially "health" news), where there is a new scare every week.

Just by chance (seeing someone's "riff" on the original on their craft blog), I ran across this WWII era British poster.

"Keep calm and carry on."

What a wonderful sentiment. Now, I don't take that as saying "bury your head in the sand" or "pretend that nothing is happening." No. It says, "Carry on." Keep living your life. Keep going. But it also says "Keep calm" - a very subtle recognition that these are not Ordinary Times, that there is something going on. But that it is best not to be needlessly alarmed about it.

And the truth is, for most of us, Carrying On is a lot easier than it was for the Britons to whom the poster was directed...they were surviving the Blitz. They were being bombed out of their homes.

How different that is from the culture we face now, the (to use a common Internet acronym) ZOMG! attitude that exists, where everything can be spun up into a source of panic, where everything is a Big Huge Hairy Deal, where we're all on the absolute verge of death for a myriad of reasons, where we must be eternally vigilant about what we eat/breathe/read/witness/allow our kids to do.

And I think as a culture we all need to take a collective deep breath.

Bad crap has happened before. Bad crap will continue to happen. It is the nature of this world. Most of us, really, are not on the brink of death, just needing one more cigarette or one more day of sun exposure or one more pound of body mass or one more exposure to Cell Phone Death Rays to push us over. For those who have kids, they will not be hopelessly damaged if you allow them to eat sugar. Or let them watch some stupid cartoon. Or send them to school without the "right" brand of backpack.

Look, we survived Sept. 11, 2001. We rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. We survived Pearl Harbor. We survived the depression. I think we can survive a lot of the stuff the news is making out to be The Worst Thing Ever! right now.

So I'm going to remember that when everyone's going koo-koo bird crazy around me, when the latest whipped-to-a-fine-frenzy news story has people frothing at the mouth: "Keep Calm and Carry On."

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