While catching up on one of the episodes of House, MD that occurred while I was away in Haiti, I noticed a theme that flowed quite well with my experience. So much so that I paused the video and began to write.

The theme was ‘privacy.’ While House and his team had a short debate on the topic and whether it was a modern innovation, totally unnecessary or socially irrelevant, I began to think of my visit to the town of Cabaret just outside of Port-au-Prince.

In Cabaret, I was surprised to see that when the doctors set up they were out in the open, under a big Tamarind tree that the residents used for meetings and to get out of the intense 120 degree heat. There was no attempt to keep people away from each other. They could see and hear the doctor’s conversations if they chose.

When I asked about the privacy and confidentiality, I was told that everyone knew everything anyway so it wasn’t an issue and that when you live as closely as the people do there is nothing that is hidden. Wow, what a difference from the multiple layers of confidentiality and privacy that we live our lives in in the United States.

One of the themes in CSR (corporate social responsibility) is transparency. Being open and honest about ones business practices. It’s important to doing business well.  But what about our personal lives?

I remember a conversation that I had with a good friend about a relationship trouble and saying I didn’t know how to tell the person I was having the conflict with what I was telling them. I realized that its that simple.  I should share my thoughts. If you say how you are feeling it might be a difficult conversation, but it is more transparent to your feelings and honest in turn.

Who is served by us holding parts of ourselves back? By doing that one makes the decision to not allow the other person to respond or react. Being more private forces people to go through things alone that otherwise might be easier to bear with support from friends and family.

Do we really need as much privacy as we have in the United States? Is it healthy? Does privacy serve only to further disconnect us from each other and living in community?

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