Recently, I had a discussion with a friend about the politics of honesty. As a young Turkish-North Americaner, I have concluded that the honesty scale is one that can be easily tipped. Throughout my life, I have felt that Turks are often too blunt. What do I mean? I mean that when I had hit puberty, all of my relatives and close family-friends boldly pointed out my developing young lady parts. Or when I have a pimple, how everyone lets me know that they can see it too, and why do I still have acne? Or maybe that, wow! I’ve lost/gained a couple pounds since they last saw me. Meanwhile, I feel that Americans are often not blunt enough. Even when we ask, the people in our circles are reluctant to admit to any changes in our weight (unless it is in the form of a compliment). How about when we have something stuck in our teeth and don’t realize until we check in the mirror ourselves! Or the classic question we ask (or are asked), “does this make me look fat?” Forget about it! Perhaps my sensitivity to the frankness of the Turkish people is because I have grown accustomed to the quiet candor of American culture. I believe that it is quite possible that the straight-forwardness (or lack there-of) of each culture is designed to protect the individual. While these confrontations where we decide how honest to be are likely dictated by our comfort level and closeness with the person we are interacting with, I ask you: Is there such thing as too honest? Is there such thing as not honest enough? When does our honesty benefit a person, and when does it hurt them? When does our lack of honesty do the same things? In what ways are the boundaries of honesty governed by culture?
What do you think?