The Honesty Continuum

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?

Advertisements

The Deadliest Sin

Many of us are familiar with the cardinal seven sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.  But The Daily Prompt asks, what’s sin #8 for you?,  and I say, selfishness, the deadliest sin of them all!  I think the best way to illustrate the adverse effects of selfishness, is to contrast it with the benefits of selflessness.   To do this, let us examine the lifestyle of some amazing and selfless creatures that we can find right under our feet: ants.  Ants are a prime example of “strength in numbers.”  While one ant may be deemed inconsequential, together, hundreds of these insects are able to accomplish tremendous feats, such as frightening away bears whom are thousands of times their own size!  These insects live in complex societies, in which they work together to gather food, defend and protect their territory, and build elaborate colonies, all in the name of survival.  In the case of these ants, their strength in numbers comes from working together for a common welfare, instead of for individual gain.  Now consider our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers (because we are social creatures, too!), if they had been selfish.  If the hunter, who provides meat for his kinfolk, does not share his game, it would be at the expense of others in his group who will now lack this rich source of nutrition, and vice verse for the gatherers.  Selfishness is defined as, “a person, action, or motive lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure” (dictionary.com).  So what makes selfishness the deadliest sin?  Because it always comes at a cost.  When we describe deadly, we do not identify a specific target group, but speak in general of fatality.  Selfishness comes with a price, whether it is harm to others (think top 1%), or whether it is harmful to the self due to unforeseeable consequences. Additionally, is selfishness not a sin that would encompass almost all of the other sins?  At the core of many of these immoral acts lies the concern for ones own pleasure (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth), profit (wrath, greed) or a lack of consideration for others (pride, greed).  Finally, when we ask for forgiveness, whether it is from an acquaintance, friend, family, lover or divinity, do we not ask them to be selfless in considering our need for absolution?