In the midst of our ever growing economic, political, environmental and social uncertainly has the commitment to personal loyalty and values taken a back seat to personal gratification and selfishness? What does it mean to be loyal, and have we lost an understanding of the importance of loyalty directed toward our values, family, community, institutions and even the principles our nation was founded upon? To be “loyal” is defined as, “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution”. Without loyalty within a family, workplace and/or community there is dysfunction, inefficiency, disharmony and most importantly a lack of trust crumbling communication. I believe personal loyalty is dedication to upholding the values you believe in and the value based actions that structure your character. It is the act of not wavering from your commitment to living a life that is an honest reflection of who you are.
To be disloyal to oneself is to project an image to the outside world in contrast to how you genuinely feel about yourself. It is energizing and gratifying to meet someone who views you as you want to be viewed, but the important question is, how do you view yourself when that someone is no longer looking? Do you feel as good about you as they do? When one is loyal to their core values, divergence in self-reflection diminishes and a unified self is solidified. Personal loyalty strengthens character, self-respect, integrity, and aligns actions with mind, heart and soul. I also attach personal loyalty to family loyalty. Although those you love may not be you, our devotion to those who love us is as important to being loyal to the values we believe in. To show allegiance to the person we partnered with, and the children we have brought into this world, having shared with them the many joys, sorrows and challenges of our life, is Loyalty Class 101. A family is an extension of the personal characteristics of each member within it and loyalty to those members ultimately contributes to the growth or dismantling of that family. Personally, I believe loyalty is non-existent in the character of a “deadbeat” dad and mom who provides for themselves, but fails to care and provide for their children. Demonstrated disloyalty toward personal values and families has also undermined and negated the critical importance of loyalty in our communities, our nation and our way of life.
Non-personal loyalty is loyalty directed toward the leadership of the community we live in, business entity we work for, institution we belong to, and nation in which we pledge allegiance to. The degree at which the mission, purpose and vision of these areas of personal participation compliment our personal values will determine our level of loyalty to the leaders involved. In addition, issues, causes, and principles we are passionate about will significantly influence the amount of loyalty we commit to a specific person, group, establishment or institution. The most important question to ask yourself is; do the values that structure my personal and family loyalty, compliment and support my non-personal loyalty commitments?
There is also a dark side to loyalty that stems from blind obedience and misplaced loyalty to a person or entity where the aftermath of such obedience and loyalty is the violation of ethical and moral behavior and/or the destruction of human life and human dignity. It is the manipulation of the masses by leaders and those in power, combined with the ignorance and apathy of those being led that spawn these destructive forms of allegiance. Healthy personal and non-personal loyalty results in the betterment of ourselves, our relationships, those we impact each day and the world around us. It is being loyal to the goodness in ourselves that will reflect in the goodness of loyalty demonstrated to others. Let us not throw away loyalty because it takes to much work to understand it, and achieve it. Like self-respect, loyalty is not given but earned through our behaviors that reflect commitment to our values. As American Philosopher Josiah Royce stated, “Unless you can find some sort of loyalty, you cannot find unity and peace in your active living.” Activate your life by being loyal to what you love.