“You may be born to royalty, but not to loyalty”
(This is one article in my book “Perspectives” which will be submitted to the publishers this week)
It has been said that the difference between a man’s and a woman’s loyalty is that a woman’s loyalty is tested and shown when her man has nothing, however a man’s loyalty to his woman is tested and shown when he has everything.
This may not be true in all instances BUT sadly seems to have significance when observing the life and times of powerful people the world over.
It raises a number of questions, starting with what is this seemingly – if not disappearing then at least – rare gift which is said to include:
- The quality of showing constant and complete support and being faithful to someone or something.
- A feeling of affection and dedicated attachment, faithfulness and devotion to obligations and commitments.
Loyalty can be a double-edged sword.
- So, how much loyalty should you show and how much should you make yourself vulnerable to another’s loyalty?
We have all experienced times or situations when we felt a friend or a partner had been dis-loyal or betrayed our loyalty. We may for instance have confided something in a friend who then disclosed it to someone else to our embarrassment. We had perhaps then called into question our friend’s loyalty – or even the matter of loyalty itself and the worth thereof.
- When and where does loyalty start and stop – if it should stop at all?
Socrates was utterly loyal to his principles, so much so that he drank a cup of poisoned hemlock as a final lesson to his students. He did this after he was sentenced to death by the theocratic Greek rulers who charged and found him guilty of two “crimes” i.e. (a) teaching about new gods and (b) corrupting the youth.
Socrates believed in an all-knowing god and not the gods acknowledged by the state. He also advocated that state officials should not be appointed by way of ballot since unqualified people might get appointed by running for positions of power.
He also believed that the state was more important than a single being and therefore insisted that he be found guilty and given the death penalty – which he accepted.
- Was his loyalty misplaced?
The loyalty to country and government often comes into focus and of which Mark Twain remarked “Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it”.
- When does a government deserve your loyalty – if at all?
- Should you defend your country with your life?
- Is “country” defined to be inside the national borders only?
- What should you do if you are a pacifist and do not believe that war is the way to solve humanity’s problems?
If you do not trust that the government of the day has made the right decision, should you go to war on its behalf?
Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhamad Ali, was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion when he refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military on the basis of his religious beliefs and opposition to his country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. He was also stripped of his world boxing title. The conviction was eventually overturned and he regained his title by way of his own making.
- Was he disloyal to country? Loyal to himself and his belief?
As for political horse trading, we all know of instances where a public display of loyalty results in private leverage – behind the curtains with an “I will support you with my vote on this, IF you will support me with your vote on that”.
The question immediately arises whether these politicians are self-serving or loyal to their constituents and country and it of course depends on their promises and ulterior motives.
- Are there different “kinds” or “levels” of loyalty?
I believe we bestow different levels – if not different kinds – of loyalty on partners, family, friends, pets, country, employer, manager, job, and religion. Allow me to juxtapose loyalty and disloyalty:
Pets, who are seen by many as friends, have been known to literally take a bullet for their human friends, or jump into a pool to save a child and put themselves in harm’s way.
How does that compare to people who may cheat on their partners and laugh it off with “no-one will miss a slice from a loaf of bread”.
- One-sided loyalties exist but one may ask its worth – if not the insanity of it all.
I had a friend who would change girlfriends like shirts. In one trip to the airport he would drop off one girlfriend for her outbound flight and then wait around for the next one to arrive on an inbound flight. This would make me think about his loyalty to me, and mine to him.
The thought comes to mind about showing loyalty to only those who make you not question their loyalty to you – and to others whom they call friends.
- How do we “reward” loyalty? Or should we not even use the words “reward” and “loyalty” in the same sentence?
We have all watched reality TV where celebrities choose their BFF’s (in this case “Best Friends Forever”) the one moment and then embarrass, ridicule, even socially torment their BFF’s a few minutes later.
This also broaches the subject of loyalty on social platforms. Who and what is to blame? The human make-up? Changing values? The anonymity of the platform where faceless people are “brave” to be rude, even bully another person publicly?
Someone clearly forgot to add “anti-” in front of the word “social platforms”.
- It is a rarity today to find and be a true friend today – which is a valuable gift.
People whom I have never met have helped me out of very difficult situations when I was in precarious unemployed and financial positions. I am forever indebted to them. At other times I have been publicly ignored by my wife’s managers from work at their social gatherings – to her embarrassment. We will ignore such “social” events again – to spare my wife the hurt.
- We are not born to loyalty.
In some countries and cultures people “pick their family”. They say that being born into a family does not make you real family, as it is an accident of birth. They therefore pick their own “family” – those with whom they feel a greater affinity, respect, and bond. Someone who will stand beside them when others – including their birth-family – will not.
I cannot see any reason to fault that approach.
- Is loyalty at an all-time low?
U.S. corporations lose half of their:
- Customers inside of 5 years
- Employees within 4 years
- Investors within 1 year.
What does this say about future business relationships: Loyalty is gone? Opportunism takes its place?
- Loyalty is not earned in a day, but over time.
What is there to say about loyalty in a world where – on the internet – you can “friend” and “unfriend” a person you have never met? Where friendships are held together by hyperlinks, “likes” and smiley icons? Where you have a million followers because you write 140 character tweets?
In years gone by it was said that loyal partners and friends used to “eat seven bags of salt together”. In today’s new and healthy vernacular that may mean seven bags of “lite salt”.
- And maybe that spells a new type of loyalty – “Lite Loyalty”.
I count amongst my closest friends only about 5, maybe 6, surely less than 10. So, allow me to confess that I cannot be a politician, a hyperlink friend, or a big corporate person.
In summary there are a few points to be made:
- Be loyal to your life partner. In public and in private. Not everyone can claim to be this.
- Be loyal to friends. And note you cannot have 100 friends.
- Do not let your loyalty turn you into a slave – especially for your job. My loyalty to my job almost killed me. I nearly fell over on the way to work one morning. A few hours later my doctor said “if you did not come to see me when you did, we would not be having this conversation now, and I would be having a different conversation with your dear wife”. No job is worth your life. One Life – many jobs.
- Walk away when your self-worth is being trampled on. No exception.
- Loyalty goes two ways. Be loyal to your staff. Defend them in public. Do not leave them out to dry if they are attacked by others, including clients. You may sort out matters behind the scene but NOT in public.
- Be loyal to yourself, your principles, your purpose and your future.
- Be loyal to God.