In the abstract, “carry on” seems good advice, but it depends greatly upon context.
Yesterday at the Woolwich attack, the murderers hovered over their victim for 20 minutes before the police arrived. They allowed women near the body, but no men. For 20 minutes, no one challenged them, even while they held their weapons in hands dyed with blood, a vivid demonstration of the phrase “caught red-handed.” (It’s an old phrase that sounds Biblical or Shakespearian but is Scottish, a reference to catching someone in the act of murder or poaching, before he can wash the blood off of his hands.)
For 20 minutes, everyone stood around, taking pictures of the villains, as requested. For 20 minutes the brave, some unarmed women, knelt over the fallen. The murderers could have sliced them up at any moment. Yet, as my husband pointed out to me this morning, he hadn’t seen any UK reporter ask, wonder, how the murderers stood unchallenged—for 20 minutes.
From a certain point of view the British crowd behaved perfectly and this is the way “they” all want us to behave. The populace sheltered in place, didn’t do anything rash, talked to the perpetrators as people. They waited for the police to come and the hospital helicopter to take the corpse away. Some will doubtless get counseling to overcome their shattering experience.
And then they will congratulate themselves on how tough British society is; resilience and all that.
Keep Calm and Carry On. It a great phrase for everyday problems or disasters outside of our control. But when Something Wicked This Way Comes, carrying on is not a sign of resilience, but of denial.