Missing Miss Manners

The world is in flux. If that sounds like another virus, it certainly feels like it on some days.  Most of us have been pivoting so fast to adjust we are simply falling over from dizziness.  Are we still resilient if we refuse to get back on a twirling carousel? Sometimes it feels like we are moving too fast to even see the brass ring, let alone grab it. Rubbing a Buddha belly is a calmer alternative. No pivoting needed. A friendly little rub, smile and breathe…

Peace is not a commodity for politicians.  Despite past and current events, it’s not an item up for sale. Media rushes us from one regurgitated opinion to the next, parading it as news.  Things to “like” or “follow” directed by Google algorithms and data mining. Our worlds narrowed through complex AI that doesn’t yet understand the randomness of human thought. The internet that previously opened the world, has become a political and marketing tool making our personal worlds smaller and smaller. The informational windows to other worlds, ideas, and ways of living get lost in advert hit scores.

Believing “our” world is the whole world is a slippery slide into the mud of bigotry and intolerance. And, rudeness! I for one, am missing Miss Manners.  Poor thing crashed off stage faster than she could run out with her walker.  Slander and Libel grabbed their wigs running for the exit without waiting for Justice to keep up. Nobody was holding the door open for anyone.

What do we need manners or etiquette for anymore?

Maybe being our “true and transparent” selves needs a few hard check stops. A different kind of “wokeness” that embraces the idea of getting along for the benefit of everyone in society. Why do manners matter in our changing world?  Nobody cares if the fork is different for salad or meat, when you’re hungry, it’s just a damn fork getting food in your mouth.

Manners and civility need a comeback. For all our sakes. If someone holds the door open, it doesn’t matter whether the door-holder is a man or, woman. I don’t feel my ability to open a door is in question. It’s just a nice gesture. Manners are a code of actions for consideration, respect and, grace. An acknowledgment of another, human. It is the foundation for a functioning society, of being -humane.

No need to spout false positive “thank-you’s” or to pretend you like something you don’t. We can still be transparent and true to ourselves while respecting the space and ideas of others.

Corporate America, is having a hard time in the pandemic as workers are quitting their jobs in droves. Walking resolutely away from environments that are now recognized as “toxic”.  Previously “normal” work environments that lacked basic respect for employees.  This attitude caused historical business losses of over $250 billion dollars per year.  Which begs the question, how much can companies afford to lose, before it hurts enough to change? Giants like Amazon and TJX have been churning people for years without regard for basic human dignity or, respect.  Dudes have no manners.

25 states have officially cut the extra $300 of Federal unemployment aid. In a sad display of very bad manners and name-calling, they claim a mere $300 is stopping people from working.  With a Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, people can’t afford to work. Not only is this 100% below what is needed today for a living wage, but in addition, employees are treated like disposable trash as companies rake in billions of dollars in clear profit.

Yes, corporate America, backed by an embedded political system, is screaming. They are furious that the pandemic has shown them with their pants down.  The “you can’t live without us” myth has been broken.  The truth is, corporate America can’t work without employees.  And, workers are now “woke” and demanding what they deserve.  Respect, a living wage, and more importantly, as 3 in 5 refuse to return to the “office”, an environment that is not toxic.  Where humanity is not just displayed as a pretty mission statement but transparently practiced with good manners.

My Mexican mocha coffee at Kaflex Roasters came with heart layered in. This small business survived the 2020 pandemic devastation. Why? Customers and employees agreed; it’s a pleasure to be here. It feels “real”.  Kindness and respect mix with the smell of ground coffee beans, people smile at each other.  “Good morning” and “thank-you” are genuine, not HR-directed practices. Good manners spread, a virus of consideration and kindness toward the stranger next to you in line. Everything seems to work better and the day is a little brighter.

It’s time for corporate and political America to wake up and “smell the coffee”.  We, The People want a Better America.

One based in good manners. Humane, inclusive and transparent practices for the good of everyone in our society.  We want a clear agenda of change that includes workers’ rights and protections.  A legal system that has equality and justice-directed enforcements. Affordable education. Respect.

America is barely 246 years old. Our version of democracy is an evolving experiment. It’s time for the system to pivot again.  Time for both politicians and corporations to say “thank you” and hold the door open for their workers.  It’s time. Make America Better.


Karin vonKrenner
Karin vonKrenner
Karin vonKrenner is a journalist and photographer. She has worked globally for over 20 years, in times of peace and conflict. Karin directs her pen and lens to document the contrasting narratives of the human experience. Her work invites you to engage the world from new perspectives.

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  1. A recent new reading for me, a 1980 commencement speech by theologian Howard Thurman at Spelman College, brought me back to this earlier Karin von Krenner writing, a piece which led me to self-reflections I should have commented on at the time but did not. Perhaps life was providing me an opportunity to be introduced to Thurman’s emphasis on genuineness in life before commenting on this Karin von Krenner writing?

    Thurman’s 1980 commencement address can be easily found online if interested.

    In her writing, Karin von Krenner draws on lots of creative metaphors. Yet has life further evolved in the six weeks since her writing with the re-surging pandemic and the seemingly every growing human-induced climate crisis adding additional strength to her thoughts, just as her photography adds strength to her writing?

    Do true manners include the genuine in ourselves, which at times can be perhaps personally uncomfortable for us or the other or both? What would Miss Manners say?