E.G. (elainegrey) wrote,

Someone posted a poll yesterday asking how how frequently one's interactions are sincere. "Free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings." Many of the comments seemed to equate sincere with speaking ones mind: i'm not sure they're the same thing.

Apparently NPR has a new blog/column called Code Switching to talk about the intersections of cultures and our multiple identities. I know there are some people who would think as code switching as insincere: sure there's just one voice that is your true voice, the rest must be pretense.

I think sincere interactions have much to do with the relationship, not the self. My sincere self, isolated from a particular relationship with an other might observe something i don't respect about hypothetical being Alpha. "My, Alpha isn't very good at motivating our committee, and doesn't seem to really do more than the dead minimum." I might share that observation with Christine, particularly if she asked how the committee meeting went.

But because i don't respect one aspect of how Alpha is handling something, doesn't mean it is insincere to treat Alpha with respect. Alpha is more than the role. Politeness doesn't demand insincerity, but i do think it involves recognizing what is appropriate in a time and place. If i were in a social situation with Alpha and a few folks, and Alpha were to crow how easy our committee has it, it isn't insincere to agree that the agendas are often quite short. It's polite.

It may be a measure of my integrity whether i pull Alpha aside at a future date and inquire whether they are aware of some issue we aren't addressing.

I don't think it's insincere to bite one's lip and not say, "You're crazy, that's a stupid idea," to a boss. Insincerity would be saying, "Oh, that's a brilliant idea, you're so clever!" but unless you have been invited in the relationship to be open and blunt (and the invitation was sincere) the relationship isn't about speaking one's mind.

And i think the distinction i make about integrity and sincerity is key, and it's why the code switching article triggered my reflection.

It is hard to be a whole person in our culture, especially if you are not part of the dominant culture. I suspect a reflection on American literature of the last century could provide many examples of straight WASP males struggling with integrity, or claiming integrity at the cost of being pushed outside the dominant power structures.

The more i think of it, the more i reflect that the American culture i am aware of is all about code switching. The boardroom code, the sports stand code, the bar code, the backyard grill code. I know advertisements reinforce these different codes by using violations of the code for humor and impact. I think where the fingers get pointed about "not being real" and a sense of broken integrity is when one's realms of behavior and community cross between dominant culture and the other.

If you're playing on "our team" we don't want you on "the other side" as well.

In that frame, it's clear to those within it that you have to pick a team and to do otherwise is to be dishonest.

I reject that frame. I think there is integrity in performing in a context and a community in which you are a member as a member, and there is no loss in integrity in being part of many communities. Performance isn't the same as one's values: and one can perform with and without integrity in all of the contexts.

And one can be late for work if one doesn't get off the blog and get moving!

Tags: morning writing, privilege

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