While the words are not those of Winston Churchill, and, indeed, were nowhere to be found during the Second World War having been discovered just twenty years ago or so in a bookshop in the northeast of England, the now famous motto “Keep Calm and Carry On” nevertheless has come to be associated with the spirit of the British people.
My Mother, whom I introduced you to in my first blog post of January 24, 2020, used the expression “Carry On” often as we grew up. I am sure she herself heard it often from her Mother, my Granny Doris, as they faced daily living in war time England. As a girl I heard it, for example, when I went to her with a concern. Once the problem had been identified and a plan of action put in place to deal with it, my Mother would invariably conclude the discussion with “Carry On”.
The words didn’t take the problem away. There was inevitably always work to do to turn things around. What these two words did do, however, was to settle the matter in my mind. The tasks at hand no longer seemed overwhelming to me. The phrase allowed you to look at your life in a bigger context. You felt as though you were no longer defined by the problem. Life was always going to be bigger than this one situation, thus carry on.
So, in the spirit of my Mother’s words and her commitment to life, let’s Carry On. We well know the problem that we collectively face presently. We know what is happening and we know what the plan is for us to do. The Queen recently underlined the importance of the role of each individual in making our way collectively through this. Governments around the world, including our own, are putting the “how” in front of us. We are being asked to remain at a distance from one another, which has far reaching implications. In adding my thoughts on the global situation, I would like to inspire everyone to remember that life is indeed bigger than this situation. This too shall pass, but let’s do this at a minimal human cost. What we do today will allow us to look to tomorrow.
I am going to conclude by sharing the favourite poem of a man that understood isolation more than most, Nelson Mandela.
Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the Horror of the shade.
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.