Monday, January 07, 2013

call me loyal

This question was posted on a Facebook thread today:

Is "Loyalty" (to your partner, to your job, to your ideals, etc.) important? Is it a key ingredient of you as a person? Did it get you hurt in the past?

and I replied with:

I  think loyalty, much like leadership - in fact they are probably very closely related, is earned. That's about demonstrating those core values that people want to follow. What I'm suggesting though is that it can be easy to be loyal to a person (in particular, as opposed to a product) because of guilt. eg I will stay loyal to this person because of something that happened in the past or because I will feel guilty if i betray them (even if it opposes my core values) or maybe pride - I can't stop being loyal because I said I would remain so.  

In consumerist society, loyalty is the buzzword of the moment. I must have at least 20 cards in my wallet that are testaments to my supposed loyalty - cafes, takeaway, a supermarket, DVD shop, clothing store, even the hairdresser. Do they engender my loyalty? Not really. Most are places I would go anyway and - as an example - spending $50 on coffee over the course of 3 months, just to get a free one is certainly not my motivation for returning. On the other hand, by having that 'loyalty card'' in my wallet I am subconsciously reminding myself to return to the same stores over and over. Some are rather clever and offer me a reward even if I don't remember my card. 
Of course, the reason I return to those stores time after time is because of the quality of their product and/or service. They take the lead and I, encouraged by what I receive there, gladly give them my money.

Loyalty to a job - does this really exist any more? I am sure that there are many older people who are long time employees of an organisation, and who would consider themselves ''loyal'' to their employer. But most people these days don't stay in the same job for years and years - they move happily and readily to a better opportunity, and rather than viewing longevity in a job as a good (read responsible, sensible, loyal) option, would see long time employment as a sign of apathy or even incompetence. 
Loyalty to ideals - well maybe that's another story. Absolutely we should be loyal to what we believe in. Assuming loyal means to stay true to, rather than to cling on in vain hope? My thesaurus tells me loyal means unswerving or faithful. Sounds good to me. Provided its tempered with good sense. Why be loyal to something, or someone that is dishonouring to you? Why be loyal to something, or someone, just because they've been in your life for a long time? Doesn't loyalty, like respect, get earned in relationships too?
Yes, I'd say I'm a loyal person. I will be faithful to that which I believe in most soundly and those whom I love most. Have I been hurt by this? Oh yes, many times, and in some ways it has made me a little more judicious about the things I now defend. Not all in all I bad thing I think.

Loyalty, alone, in my view is unsustainable and unrealistic. It cannot be demanded, or given without far deeper motivations. 

Your thoughts?

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