It’s time to ‘keep calm and carry on’
The Brits have a saying that was part of their war effort during the Blitz that goes “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I was reminded of it emblazoned on a friend’s notebook in characteristic blocky British lettering. It’s a reassuring mantra even if one isn’t dodging 250-pound bombs dropped from a Heinkel. The efficacy of the sentiment might be a bit careworn and probably was even a little careworn in the midst of the Battle of Britain. Now it adorns T-shirts, coffee cups and notebooks. Its utility is trundled out again for the Age of Trump.
Personally, I like the sentiment. It’s a reminder that one should simply go about one’s daily life, putting certain things back into perspective. I follow a version in the form of a morning ritual on television. I turn to CBC if I’m up fairly early in the a.m. to catch a CBC radio program as it’s being televised. Terry Seguin hosts New Brunswick First five days a week, seated at the radio console, calmly interviewing guests about goings-on in the province. It’s a reassuring contrast to the ‘hair on fire’ commentary that goes on with the American news programming on the other channels, and the blaring advertising filler selling junk, clinky trinkets and automobiles interspersed with herky-jerky reportage of dubious significance.
Alright, I’m prejudiced. Living this close to the New Brunswick border and being born in Canada gives me another perspective on matters I think I otherwise wouldn’t have. That is, if I was born in the States, which, thank goodness, I wasn’t. There’s a certain ambivalence one acquires having the perspective acquired from two nations instead of either one.
True, Canada has its own set of problems, but the USA ones seem wildly out of focus and disproportionate. Or so American media, particularly television, would have you believe. I’m not trying to downplay the perils that the current American president poses to democracy and the republic, but Americans should take a deep breath and regain their perspective once again. The divisiveness of the current state of affairs is distracting the country away from issues that need to be addressed right now. Take climate change for instance.
I’ve been aware of the issue and took it seriously 50 years ago. Alright, 49 years ago for those who will quibble. It was Earth Day. I don’t recall if it was first or second, but some of my fellow high school students and I gave a presentation on its importance and the changes we were seeing around us. We were children then. Some of us, myself included, were convinced things were happening environmentally that needed to be stopped.
Climate change, global warming, whatever you want to call it, is the most pressing issue affecting us today. It’s the primary or underlying cause of all the woes affecting the planet and the two countries my feet are firmly planted in. I stressed to the friend whose notebook cover bid me “Keep Calm and Carry On,” that we would have to embark on addressing climate change as “the moral equivalent of war.”
Whole economies need to be transformed. Political systems require retooling to contend with it. People have to mobilize and organize themselves into functioning entities to address the problem. However dire the potential outcome of not addressing the issue of climate change would be, the way to begin is calmly and methodically. Otherwise, we fall into the current spate of quarrelsome disunity and hand-wringing.
I turn to CBC’s New Brunswick First and Terry Seguin to simply reassure myself that the frantic and wildly speculative commentary of the daily news programming is only that; frantic and wildly speculative. Other issues vie for one’s attention, like regaining one’s perspective and being calm in the face of whatever adversity one faces.
It’s time to carry on.
Dave Wylie’s life and work experience runs the gamut from newspaper editor to carpenter to grant writer to boat builder with lots of other work wedged in-between. Wylie currently is president of a management company that oversees an elderly housing complex and president of the local historical society. He resides in Madawaska.