Part of the workshop that I am facilitating this week has naturally been about culture since we have 12 different cultures represented. I think every culture has the propensity to put blinders on about their own culture. Sometimes this is intentional and other times culture is so intertwined into life that it is not seen or ignored.
When we talked and dialogued about such topics as relationship killers, mediating conflict, and grieving, many of those cutlural differences came to the surface like carbonation in an RC Cola. One of the topics where culture arose was on the topic of trust busters, or those actions that serve to damage or spoil a relationship. One principle in particular that most Americans hold as a high value is honesty. Honesty is an American or Western way to build trust into a relationship, whereas lying breaks trust. Media of all sorts comment how elected officials are not honest. We deride our family and friends if they are not honest . Honesty is huge!!
One of the participants in our workshop pointed out that honesty is not as high a value in Senegalise culture. He said there is a saying that goes something like this: “A lie that unites is better than a truth that divides.” This shook me up when I first heard it. After a while, though, I began to process the meaning of this statement and realized that their value system is high on relationships not honesty. The Senegalise (and possible many Africans, although I hesitate to generalize across too much of Africa as it is a large continent) would rather be untruthful and maintain a friendship than be honest breaking a relationship.
This brought up much discussion in our workshop. I wonder what you think? Which value system do you hold to, honesty or relationship? Can we Westerners learn something from the Senegalise?