“Keep Calm and Carry On” won’t carry us through the coronavirus crisis

By David Futrelle

We like to think we can defeat almost any national trauma by remembering to “Keep Calm and Carry On,” as the popular poster declares.

It’s no accident that the poster, originally produced (if not widely deployed) in pre-war Britain in 1939 had a second and much bigger life in the US in the wake of 9/11, when we were routinely exhorted to keep going to restaurants and bars and theaters lest our social cowardice prove that “the terrorists have won.” (And there was some logic to this argument: the point of terrorism is to terrorize, so by resisting our fears and “carrying on” as normally as we could we lessened the impact of the attacks.)

But we now live in a world where this comforting fantasy no longer applies, where the health of our older and immunocompromised citizens depends on us changing our habitual behavior radically. Social Distancing is hard both practically and psychologically, especially in the US, where it challenges Americans raised on an ideology of rugged individualism to adapt a lifestyle that seems decidedly unheroic – and, for those who are young and healthy, to do it for the sake of others rather than for themselves.

So it’s not surprising that there are still people out there who still think the bravest response to the coronavirus is to refuse to change at all. Think of those who filled the bars and restaurants this past weekend – in Chicago there were long lines of St Patrick’s Day revelers outside the bars in Wrigleyville. Think of Devin Nunes, tut-tutting those too “scared” to go out and suggesting that visiting the local pub was the best thing people could do for our economy.

“I’m not afraid to go out and do what I want,” wrote a Twitterer called Lucky Tony.

In my world, it is … a necessity to go out and have a good time at my local bar and not be stuck at home cause of some ‘virus’ that scares you.

Now that bars and restaurants in many locales have been forced to close their doors to customers by decree – in part because of the terrible decisions people like Tony made over the last weekend – there are some calling for some sort of “resistance” to the closures. “It is now evident that this is an orchestrated attempt to destroy CAPITALISM,” tweeted the cowboy-hatted former sherriff and MAGA ideologue David A Clarke Jr.

First sports then schools and finally commercial businesses. Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out.

Or stay home and get delivery until the crisis passes. Is that really too much to bear?

Going out won’t help us defeat this enemy; it will enable the virus to do more damage. Hitting the bars isn’t an act of courage; it’s an act of selfishness that puts more vulnerable others at risk. Keeping calm is well and good, but carrying on as normal, well, that’s just what the virus wants us to do.

Send tips to dfutrelle at gmail dot com.

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1 year ago


use outdoor equipment in parks if there is any

Probably best not to use this kind of equipment, as it could transmit coronavirus. Where I am, we don’t have any outdoor exercise equipment but all playgrounds for children are closed because of surface transfer.

1 year ago

@Naglfar, yes exactly :-\ another reason not to use them, sadly. (I probably wouldn’t anyway, but I’m sure some people will want to 🙁 )

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

Day 4 at home and I’m already feeling bloated and gross. I’ll need to try and get up early next week to take Bailey for walks down by the creek so that I get some movement.

1 year ago

Having not left the flat for a week, tonight I’ve been looking at street webcams. Central London is eerily quiet for a Friday evening. And my normally busy street in north west London has hardly any traffic. It’s all a bit 28 Days Later, TBH.

1 year ago

There are lots of strength training exercises you can do at home! Look up some for whatever area you’d like to improve. I’ve been doing knee strengthening, since my arthritis could use it.