Is Loyalty Dead?
In these trying times of shifting allegiances and ten-second vines, we can be forgiven for thinking that the ideal of loyalty has declined. Yet it has never been more important than now. Many of the greatest and most lasting customs of our humanity – our roles within our families, our positions within our community, and our drive to protect and to serve – stem from an original obligation to others. We are a great civilisation because we have been able to trust, and we have trusted because those before us knew the benefits and transactional value of loyalty.
Loyalty is not having a belief. It is the practice of staying firm in a position of friendship or support, despite obstacles and challenges. Despite what many think, it is different than holding beliefs or having principles. For each belief or principle that is held, there are others which are opposite.
As Tolkien once said “Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens”, and right he was. We all have experiences of those times when friends became fair weather. Those who have been hurt by those they considered a true friend can attest to the value of loyalty perhaps more than anyone else, and perhaps to its status as both a treasure to behold and a weapon to be used against us. Through loyalty, we can be cut deeper than perhaps any knife could.
Loyalty is valuable for the same reason as diamonds; it takes a long time to create and therefore it is seldom found. But without it, our smallest conceivable economic and emotional units, our households and our friendship groups, cannot exist. Without loyalty, workplaces are walls and chairs, families are housemates and friendships are empty. Trust is the seed from which all loyalties grow – it is the measure of an individuals willingness to become vulnerable to your guidance.
As we grow older, the true purpose and benefits of loyalty become more obvious. With age comes an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses both of ourselves and of others. We grow new compassion, which we apply to our intelligence to create wisdom, and from compassionate wisdom comes a willingness by others to trust. We know the overriding purpose of the strong is to protect and understand the weak. When we create trust, we build loyalty, and when we build loyalty we embrace the true purpose of humanity. Stay old man strong.