At the end of my last post, there were two questions: (1) “What good is loyalty if you don’t keep your promise; if you don’t hold true to your cause?”; (2) “Are we ever justified in being disloyal?”
For starters, if you don’t keep your promise, you may end up being seen as an untrustworthy person. If people start seeing you that way, then you might find yourself alone one day, wondering what happened. Same story with holding true to your cause.
Personally, I am a man of my word. At least, I try to be as much as possible. If I make a promise – from helping someone to move out of their old home and/or move into their new one, to a marriage vow – or enter into an agreement (such as a month-to-month rental arrangement), I fully intend to keep my promise; uphold my part of the agreement. It may not work out in the time-frame you thought it would. It may not work out at all. It happens that way sometimes.
If you break your promise; if you betray the trust that someone else has placed in you, then what good is loyalty? It depends. On one hand, it’s possible (however unlikely it may seem) that it was an accident and you feel really horrible about it because you really care about that other person. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person to do something like that intentionally, then did you ever really care about that in the first place?
I have a hard time understanding why someone would intentionally break a promise or an oath of loyalty. There are some circumstances that I understand. Like refusing to do something that goes against what God has commanded. For something like a romantic relationship, or even marriage (especially marriage), breaking that promise, that trust…it just does not compute. Unfortunately, people are selfish. Even I am. But to be so selfish, so self-absorbed, so willing to satisfy yourself without regard to who you hurt in the process – how do you get that way, if you weren’t that way in the first place?
Loyalty is willing, in that it is given freely and not coerced. If it is coerced, it ceases to be loyalty and becomes obedience. Loyalty is chosen, after personal consideration. It is practical in that it is actively practiced and not a passively expressed as a mere feeling. It is not casual interest in something or someone, it is wholehearted, complete commitment.
There is some disagreement as to what the proper object of loyalty is, or can be. Some will say that the object of loyalty is always a person and some will say that it can be “anything to which one’s heart can become attached or devoted.”
Like I said before, I’m a man of my word. If I make a promise, then I do everything I can to keep it. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I am loyal to my friends and others I care about and I hope they will do/be the same back to me. If I’m ever in a romantic relationship, I will be loyal to that woman, because that’s the kind of person I was raised to be. Betraying that trust, that loyalty, that commitment – it goes against who I am and what I believe. And I’m not going to change that.