Meanwhile, many of my co-workers gave up and shut down, replacing various levels of loyalty with fear-driven willingness to agree to any compromise of business or personal ethics in order to keep their paycheck.
Out of revenge, many actually did become disloyal to their employer. This took many forms, such as the comptroller at the freight company whose embezzlement was paying for a small yacht in Marina del Rey; such as the data entry ladies at M.G.M. who constantly bad-mouthed the movies released by the company (underneath that was also the disappointment that M.G.M. was no longer making musicals – the only valid genre in their world).
I just couldn’t go that route, being dosloyal, so when I showed up for the first day at my next/new job, I was loyal and the company was not, and the cycle repeated.
But really, this was not so much because I have stronger values, or better values, or because I am necessarily better in any way. What my approach and practice gave me was that I lived my life as a person who was loyal.
Three things are evident in the way that Loyalty shows up in society.
One factor is that humans need to be loyal to something. Modern folk will latch onto any thing or person to be loyal to these days: sports teams, talk show hosts, some symbol like the flag or a religious icon, teen gangs, a performer, or even some ludicrous television program like “Seinfeld” or “Cheers” or “Snakes In The City”.
Folks may be disloyal to their country or their religion or their spouse or their employer, but they will get a tattoo of the Harley-Davidson logo, or they’ll pull a knife in a bar because you insulted the Cubs or the Raiders, or they’ll riot in the streets over a soccer/football match – and insist that they did so out of loyalty.
The second factor is that most as-practiced Loyalty has no basis in Reason. The German masses were loyal to Hitler, many North Koreans are loyal to their wacko head of state, and Muslim jihadists are ‘loyal’ to the point of suicide bombings.
Most folks are loyal to “X” because it is expected. Born in Chicago? Go Cubs! Born in a ghetto? Go thugs! Born in a mansion? Go NASDAQ! Born in Ireland? Up the I.R.A.! Born outside America? Yankee go home!
Typical as-practiced loyalty takes the form of demanding respect for one’s own attributes only – country, class, school, lifestyle, neighborhood – with parallel disrespect for all others. Fighting invariably ensues.
Loyalty, however, is given to the chosen object from free choice. I love my country and am loyal to the Constitution. I am not required to bad-mouth, much less destroy, other forms of government. My loyalty exists in and of itself. My loyalty to one ‘significant other’ relationship does not require me to treat others with dis-respect. My loyalty to an employer continues to the end of that relationship or assumed contract, at which time I have no problem being loyal to any subsequent employer.
When I AM loyal, then I am being the kind of person who is loyal, which action – given the way that the Universe works – provides me with some amount of Power. Loyalty is an Empowering Value, and being loyal is therefore a source of Power. Works both ways too, as is the nature of Empowerment: When you are loyal to a spouse or to an employer, or even to an ideal, the giving of that Loyalty (or any other High Value) empowers the object of that Loyalty, which is the only way that one can cause one’s own Power.
So be careful where you focus and direct your Power. Loyalty to the K.K.K. gives (False) Power to bigotry and hatred. You can never be proud of disempowerment. Loyalty to the fear-mongers and war-mongers in Washington produces fear and loathing. Loyalty to the Holy Bottom Line produces greed and unearned (in the Paleo-Capitalism sense) wealth. Loyalty to ignorance produces distance from Objective Reality. Loyalty to a ‘good time’ produces hangovers and bloody accidents.
Look at what you did yesterday and at what got done at the end of today. Your actions and results are the perfect measure of your loyalties. If you go to church (et cetera) on Sunday and you ‘party down’ the rest of the weekend, then you have to look at the part-time nature of your loyalties. Gym five days a week and dissolution on the weekend also betoken conflicting and-or part-time and-or insincere loyalties. Fiscal responsibility on the job and maxed-out personal credit cards? Or the reverse? Righteous Christian in public, yet bigot or sexual deviate in private?
You destroy your Power by serving two masters.
This is the third factor about Loyalty: Loyalty has to do with choosing that one object of your Loyalty that precludes all others. One spouse or partner. Higher Values OR crass materialism. Freedom and not fascism. Dignity and not subservience (for yourself and others). Responsibility or irresponsibility. Love or hate. Empowerment or dis-empowerment.
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