Culture pt III

It is at precisely this point that some of the most confusing, frustrating, or even abhorrent practices of other cultures begin to be drawn into the conversation.

A common Western complaint that I came across about Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures is the ease with which people would tell lies and half-truths. One American put it like this, "it took me years to realize that when they said, 'maybe' they meant 'no' and when they said 'tomorrow' they meant 'never.'" To our justice-based culture, this seems to be a clear cut case of someone doing something wrong! But the 'right-and-wrong' grid through which we push all of our information is merely our grid, there are other grids.

What if we pushed the same scenario through a 'shame-and-honor' grid? The individual who is speaking is more interested in protecting the honor of their family, or even the person they are speaking to, than in telling the truth. In fact, they may be shocked at the way we dishonor them, or ourselves. They would never dream of exposing someone else the way we do! In the example of our American friend, to tell someone 'no' to their face is to shame them, to publicly slap their hand, so instead they are told, 'maybe.'

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