Did you know that ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ was a motivational poster produced by the British government in preparation for World War II? Or that a copy was discovered in 2000 by Barter Books of Alnwick?
No? Me neither, that was, until recently.
In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London I have seen posts by a number of individuals expressing their sorrow. Some do this in a compassionate ‘share the love’ sort of way, and some do this in an angry ‘we cannot allow this (specific word) terrorism to continue’ sort of way. The former are the ones who are most likely to light candles, buy flowers and balloons, attend an organised concert, and change their Facebook pictures to express their solidarity. The latter are more likely to sneer, mock and call out the former for doing this.
You know who I’m talking about and you know which category you fall into.
So for the benefit of the latter group, I’m going to attempt to explain why the former appear to be so tolerant, inclusive and naive in your eyes. Often I’m one of the former, and I’m going to share my opinions on the matter, for all my little piece may be worth.
We’re angry and we’re sad, just like you, but we deal with our emotions differently. Instead of letting our anger manifest into hatred and fear, we move our anger into compassion and love. Instead of shouting ‘We must do something’ and ‘Enough is enough’, we shout ‘I love you’ and ‘We stand together’. Why? Because the real masterminds behind the terrorist attacks want our and your anger to turn into hatred and fear. They want us to alienate others so that more frustration, anger and hatred can brew, because when this happens, people are more easily led to violence and enough violence eventually leads to war.
It’s not that we don’t mourn the lives that have been lost, it’s not that we don’t feel sad, and it’s not that we are ignoring the tragedies, but if we don’t carry on, if we don’t push forward with our lives, our values and accept everyone in our society, then the terrorists will win. The terrorist’s want to disrupt our lives, they want us to stop living the way that we do, they want us to adhere to their extreme values and ideas even if it means controlling us with fear. This is why ‘We Keep Calm And Carry On.’ This is why no matter what happens we extend our compassion to every single person in our society, regardless of their faith, their culture, their beliefs, their gender, their political party or their skin colour, etc., etc.
We are also angry, and we want change just as much as you do. We want to stop terrorism. We’re not excusing the extreme terrorist behaviour by carrying on with our lives, we’re not ‘too tolerant’ because we come together with acts and gestures of solidarity. We’re standing up for and doing everything that the terrorists hate about our society in an act of defiance. We can never bring back the lives that have been lost, but we can honour the victim’s by living our lives the way they would have chosen to have lived theirs.
We have to trust that our governments will make the right decisions, decisions that won’t lead to more hatred and violence. We have to trust that the majority of the people of Earth can come together with mutual respect and compassion. We have to stand side by side, carry on, and be kind to one another and break down the barriers in our mind between ‘us’ and ‘them’. We know not everyone will accept this, we know that there will always be a minority who are filled with hatred and will carry out dreadful acts, but they can’t win and they don’t win so long as we accept each other and stand together. We have a choice and we have a vote and a say in our country, and the terrorists hate that. I hope, that we will make the right choices.