The phrase referenced in my title is used mostly these days by evangelical Christians (like the Quiverfull Duggars) and Mormons (especially the polgyamist communities) The words may vary a bit, but 'keep sweet' is meant (by far in the majority) for women and children and is directed at their behaviour.
Their job, should they want it or not, is to always be obedient to the commands of their community leaders and always maintain a cheerful, 'happy to obey' mien whatever their inner mental states, because to do otherwise, to be complaining and rebellious, to question and doubt and contradict, brings shame on the reputation of the men divinely ordained to lead their households and communities.
Those who don't 'keep sweet' face a range of punishments until they learn to fake being happy or surrender to Stepford wife robotic joy. The problem is not, so they are told, that the system is failing them, it's that they are failing the system. It's the ultimate tiger trap in the positive thinking guilt trip.
Positive thinking is great, but the more systemic blocks are placed in the way of success, the more that bizarre goals identified as 'success' are set, the more someone's inner survival system will be balking at jumping through razor-edged hoops too small for them to fit, or it will be psychologically melting down repeatedly trying to overcome rigged circumstances with inadequate support and resources. Balking is not negative thinking. That's a reality check.
That's the trouble with evolving large group societies out of group loving critters like humans, who can also anticipate suffering and death.
So, the hypothesis gets set up again and again, is it better for survival inside a society to...
A/ 'keep sweet' and think positive so some day you'll be the very best at what you do and what you do is what you're told (which is always possible to be what you merit if what you merit is what you're told you merit) .
B/ balk against a rigged game and demand a rewrite of societal rules that promotes more participants in the society gaining survival factor by positive merit.
Historically, option B events have had the crap lethally kicked out of them a lot by the societal leaders in position to judge option A. Survival conditions have to have serious diminishing returns to go against the framework of a society by individuals. One of the classic ways of 'keeping sweet' aka 'being shut the fuck up' is to be dead. It takes many, many feet in the streets to shift B to a positive outcome. Fall of the Berlin Wall. Collapse of the Soviet Union. Latin America. Arab Spring.
But here we are again on a local level. G20. Occupy seedpoints. And now, Attawapiskat. The band didn't keep sweet. They were swiftly judged, warning them to get back to option A.
They're not going. This is serious B-ball. Attawapiskat isn't the first or the only community in Canada to have nothing to lose, but it has finally gained international attention amid international unrest against the wealthy and powerful, and by that, it's hurting Harper's pride while he's lecturing other countries on how *their* little people are not keeping sweet.
What can possibly go wrong?
(edited to take out a sentence fragment that should have been deleted before posting and sprinkle a few commas around)