British Motto a Good One to Live By
A wise man indeed, Rabbi Edwin Goldberg of
Temple Judea in Coral
Gables, Florida, wrote this letter to the editor of the Miami Herald and
also published it in
You can see it there, but it so impressed me as advice for the new year, he
generously gave me permission to reprint it in the Sneaky Kitchen. Please
Keep Calm and Carry On
by Rabbi Edwin Goldberg
This weekend, the new movie, “The King’s Speech” opens
in South Florida. It tells the story of King George VI struggling with his
speech impediment. For the last few months I have been thinking about
George VI but for another reason. Last February Melanie and I were in
London and we
the Churchill War Room and Museum. In the gift shop we saw a poster with
the slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” as well as a picture of a crown. We
learned that the crown represented King George VI and the slogan was to be used
if the Nazis invaded England. The poster was never introduced (and
fortunately the Nazis never invaded). The poster campaign was forgotten
until it was rediscovered ten years ago in a store room. It has now been
introduced and has made a splash on both sides of the Atlantic.
I love the British understatement of this slogan. I mean, do we really
think this positive attitude would have done any good against the S.S.?
But that’s the British for you. I once read of an elderly London woman
whose flat was destroyed during the Blitz. A bobby found a little bit of
gin left in a bottle under the debris and offered it to the woman. She
rejected it out of hand, declaring, “Oh no, that’s for emergencies!”
“Keep Calm and Carry On” is not only useful for the British, of course. It
is a nice way for us to remember to be mindful of who we are and how we should
behave in our families, at work and on our South Florida streets. I have
this slogan in my office and at home. It is very helpful. I must
admit I also have a sign in my office with the opposite message: “Now Panic and
Freak Out” – accompanied by an upside down crown. I know that every day I
have a choice between keeping calm and freaking out. We all do.
The Torah portion this week introduces us to Moses. He truly is an
outstanding leader. Like King George VI he had a speech impediment.
But he rose above his disability in part because he favored keeping calm over
freaking out. It all goes to show what we can accomplish with the right
When George VI was helping England survive the Nazis, the United States had
President Roosevelt. It’s been said of him that he had a second rate
intellect but a first rate disposition. Which may be just what we need in
a leader these days as well.
In the coming year, may we recognize the choice we all have and choose, more often than not,
to keep calm and carry on.