The refrain on a motivational poster created by the British Government in 1939 to encourage a frightened citizenry ahead of World War II, “Stay Calm and Carry On” has, especially in this century, become a popular moniker for all manner of products and situations.
It has become the “go to” phrase internationally as people confront a myriad of problems.
The US government is seeking to do just that as it prepares for the inauguration of its 46th president while staring down the January 6 riot and chaos fostered by its 45th president, which reduced its capital city into a fortress.
Surely, American medical and health professionals must repeat the refrain daily working in the midst of an uncontrolled third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and a bumpy implementation of the anti-virus vaccine rollout; as well as employers, employees and labor representatives, as they encourage failed businesses and the growing numbers of the unemployed.
European countries, too, are seeking to stay calm and carry on, as a deadly third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic rages across their landscapes, shuttering business, schools and virtually all social interaction.
Stay calm and carry on equally applies to us.
Nervously, we counted the days following each holiday celebration, fearful that last summer’s second wave of COVID-19 lethal infections would be repeated following Christmas and then new year’s celebrations, family gatherings and church services.
We continue to hold our collective national breath waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop”, notwithstanding our having reached and passed the 14-day incubation period for the virus.
Uppermost in the minds of many is when the vaccine may become available in The Bahamas and how its distribution will be implemented. Thus far, the minister of health has advised that the plan is in hand, but the prime minister subsequently announced that he has appointed a committee to develop the plan.
The two major hotel resorts on New Providence and Paradise Island have reopened but already some workers recalled to work have been furloughed for a second time. Some other hotels are postponing their reopening and cruise ships’ arrivals are becoming a vague memory for those for whom cruise passengers created livelihoods.
As their colleagues in North America and Western Europe, teachers and their labor representatives are confused by government indecision or U-turn guidance on schools’ reopening to in-class instruction. They take no comfort from efforts to stretch belief finding a “bright” side to student achievement during 10 months of pandemic.
Still, for many, lives appear to have returned to remarkably close to normal.
In-person church services have resumed. Schools are gradually returning to classrooms.
Restaurants have reopened to pick-up and outdoor dining, and they are busy. Shops and department stores have also reopened along with florists, beauty salons and most business offices.
Nominally, all are observing mask wearing, social distancing and sanitizing protocols.
Dare we count the demolition of abandoned government structures: the Clarence Bain Building in Oakes Field, the old customs building at Prince George Dock, and the old post office building and remnants of long-abandoned buildings on the Royal Victoria Hotel site as signals that we are indeed carrying on if not staying calm?