I am loyal. At least I like to think so. But why do I like to think so? What are we taught about this word that says it makes us more ethical, more likable, or more valuable to others? What does it actually mean? According to Dictionary.com, loyal means “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.”
Okay, so firm and constant support to a person, is this no matter what? Is this the concept of ride or die? What if what they are doing goes against what I believe? What if their actions suggest that they are not ethical, likable, or valuable? What if they have harmed someone or even harmed me or my family? Is it then acceptable to break the alliance and, if so, does this make me less loyal?
Now, an institution. If I disagree with a government decision, am I unethical? If my duties at work are no longer needed, did my loyalty not make me valuable enough? If the company dissolves, what then do I do with my loyalty? Institutions are temporary and composed of multiple points of view. Where is my loyalty truly placed?
What if loyalty was defined as firm and constant support of a belief or code of ethics? What if we stay true to our beliefs and only support those who act in accordance with what is right rather than blindly following what we know to be wrong simply to be called “loyal?” Then, our value would not be based on how others view us but rather on how we view ourselves.
I cannot state that I am loyal based on the basic definition. I have turned my back on people and institutions because our goals did not align. I have walked away in the face of being called disloyal. I have had to choose between two parties that I have pledged my loyalty to based on what facts were known at the time.
But, I can state that I have remained loyal to my beliefs and that I strive every day to surround myself with others who share the same moral codes. I support institutions that aim to protect the innocent and I fight against those that bring harm. Sometimes, this has cost me dearly. Of course, this has also saved me.
Be loyal to the concept, not the person or institution and you will sleep better at night!