The fourth of the ten virtues is Loyalty. It seems fitting to talk about loyalty since it is nearly the Fourth of July, a day we celebrate for freedom, and yes, loyalty because without the first Americans being loyal to the cause of freedom,we would not be setting off fireworks and celebrating our freedoms.
To date, I’ve written other posts on the following virtues-Kindness, Optimism, and Courage. The remaining six are: Tolerance, Flexibility, Beauty, Humor, Honesty and Intelligence.
Loyalty is one that I wince at a bit. Here is Webster’s definition of loyalty:
loyalty |ˈloiəltē| noun (pl. loyalties) the quality of being loyal to someone or something: her loyalty to her husband of 34 years.• (often loyalties) a strong feeling of support or allegiance: fights with in-laws are distressing because they cause divided loyalties.
I feel as if loyalty can be mercurial. Or at least I can be mercurial in my side of loyalty. It is because human are so fallible that either being loyal to an idea, cause or person can change, sometimes as quickly as weather can change.
Yet, I know people who are loyal to a fault. They seem inflexible in their outlook on a belief or cause. I personally think it can blind them to other ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. I also admire them for the strength of character in being so invested in their belief or perspective. People who are loyal to a belief or cause usually make an impact in the area of their focus.
Loyalty to a person is another subject. To be loyal signifies a constant support to another regardless of the other person’s behavior. A dog and his master come to mind. A dog will love and follow his master anywhere because of the devotion and love that has been fostered between the two. We all love dogs because they don’t ask questions about our character or behavior. They just love us unconditionally.
Is that how loyalty should be to another? Not quite. Being loyal does not require you turn a blind eye to accountability. Having accountability with oneself or with another is important. I can be loyal to the person and still not be approving of their behavior.
If my adult child does something I think is harmful to herself or others, I don’t approve of it. I may even speak to her about it. But I will also be her support and be loyal to her person regardless of the outcome. Let’s be clear here: I won’t condone bad behavior, but I will love and be loyal to her as my daughter.
How is loyalty fostered? How is it built in the first place? Trust and time.
It’s what companies bank on for return sales from their customers. Nordstrom’s built their company on customer service. The Container Store does the same with their customers and employees. Over time they give consistent good service and quality goods which people appreciate and become loyal to, shopping at their stores.
Perhaps it is why I struggle with loyalty so much. Trusting a person involves risk. I’ve invested and trusted people who turned their back on me-quite easily. And really, it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t because I particularly did anything. It was their own fears or selfishness that caused them to not consider the other person. They were just trying to work out their own life in the way they saw fit.
We are self-serving human beings. We try not to be. We try to look and act for the greater good. I think the virtue of loyalty is perhaps one of the most difficult virtues to foster in today’s world.
It is a noble thing to be loyal. Loyalty to a cause created the Declaration of Independence. It created freedom for us as American Citizens. America has been loyal to other countries, supporting them in time of need or crisis.
Perhaps, I need to up my game in the virtue of loyalty. I should examine what this really means to me personally. I should examine my beliefs, my causes and the people in my life and decide what being loyal to them means. What the costs are and how I can support the beliefs or the people more in my life.
What are your thought on Loyalty as a trait?
I’d love to hear your comments.