In the spring of 1939 in preparation for World War II, the Ministry of Information in the British government created an ad campaign that included posters — meant to boost morale — that would be displayed throughout the British Isles during the testing times of war.
Meant to serve as visual reminders of safety during times of trial, the "home publicity posters" were to be distributed and displayed in public places — in shop windows, on notice boards and in public transport areas — in the event of a wartime disaster, such as an attack or mass bombing of a major city.
With three separate designs the posters included these phrases: "Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might," "Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory" and "Keep Calm and Carry On." Each of the posters was designed in the same font and included the symbolic crown of King George VI at the top of the message.
At different times the first two posters were distributed in some public areas. The third poster, the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster, was held in storage on reserve to be used after a serious air raid. But when a serious air raid never occurred during the campaign, copies of the poster were never distributed.
Years later in 2000, owners of a bookstore in Northumberland, North East England, were sorting through a box of used books they had purchased at auction. Among the treasures was an original "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster. Liking the look and the message, the store owner framed it and hung it up in the store.
Although the poster was not used for its original purpose during a time of war, the message "Keep Calm and Carry On" has proven to resonate well with people who have visited their shop. Since that time, the message — meant to bring comfort in a time of war and turmoil — has gained popularity and has been repurposed in many different products.
The simple five-word message has become a guide for many to follow.
Like the war-time message declares, how do we "keep calm and carry on" amid life's challenges and difficulties?
"We live in a time of turmoil. Earthquakes and tsunamis wreak devastation, governments collapse, economic stresses are severe, the family is under attack, and divorce rates are rising," President Russell M. Nelson said during the April 2011 general conference. "We have great cause for concern. But we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith" ("Face the Future with Faith").
Times of turmoil are not new. Even the most faithful Church members have needed to heed that advice.
Father Lehi in the Book of Mormon had been persecuted for preaching truth in Jerusalem and had been commanded by the Lord to leave all of his worldly possessions behind and flee with his family to the wilderness to live in a tent. Lehi experienced hardship, had to lean on the Lord while raising rebellious children, and learned to survive along the way to an unknown destination.
"Clearly, Lehi knew opposition, anxiety, heartache, pain, disappointment, and sorrow," President Nelson said in October 2016 general conference. "Yet, he declared boldly and without reservation a principle as revealed by the Lord: 'Men are, that they might have joy.' Imagine! Of all the words he could have used to describe the nature and purpose of our lives here in mortality, he chose the word joy! …
"My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives," President Nelson taught.
That joy helps a person "keep calm and carry on," and comes through focusing on the Savior and on God's plan of salvation.
"We can feel joy regardless of what is happening — or not happening — in our lives," President Nelson said. "Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy" ("Joy and Spiritual Survival").
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, taught that lasting joy is found in focusing on the Savior and living the gospel as demonstrated and taught by Him.
"The more we learn about, have faith in, and emulate Jesus Christ, the more we come to understand that He is the source of all healing, peace and eternal progress," she said. "He invites each of us to come unto Him, an invitation that President Henry B. Eyring has characterized as 'the most important invitation anyone could accept' " ("That Your Joy Might Be Full," October 2017 general conference).
Another example found in the Book of Mormon highlights how knowledge of the Lord dispels fear and provides peace. When an advancing Lamanite army frightened Alma's people in the land of Helam, Alma helped the people stay calm and focus their faith in Christ.
Through this knowledge the people were able to "carry on" by hushing their fears.
"But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but … should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them. Therefore they hushed their fears" (Mosiah 23:27–28).
"Notice Alma did not hush the people's fears," Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during the April 2015 general conference. "Rather, Alma counseled the believers to remember the Lord and the deliverance only He could bestow (see 2 Nephi 2:8). And knowledge of the Savior's protecting watchcare enabled the people to hush their own fears.
"Correct knowledge of and faith in the Lord empower us to hush our fears because Jesus Christ is the only source of enduring peace," said Elder Bednar. "He declared, 'Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me' (Doctrine and Covenants 19:23)" ("Therefore They Hushed Their Fears").
May we develop and keep our faith in the Savior as we move forward and carry on, no matter our circumstance.