Pentecost 144

Pentecost 144
My Psalms 144

To Be or To Deny

The world has undergone many transformations throughout its history. Some things, however, have remained constant. Loyalty is one of them. A popular American writer, Laura Ingles Wilder once said of her writing: “As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that the things that are truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. Courage and kindness, loyalty, truth, and helpfulness are always the same and always needed.”

It has been reported that loyalty among the citizens of the twenty-first century is a rare community seldom found. Economists claim that most businesses lose one-third of their customers within the first seven years, half of their employees within the first five, and over half of their investors within the first three. Fifty to sixty years ago people bought their cars from the same automobile company, favored the same products their parents had, stayed at the same job until they retired, and seldom traded their stock once purchased.

Some place the shift in consumer loyalty on simple economics. People today are more interested in the cost of an item than in the reputation of the manufacturer of the item. Some detergents companies can count on their stock rising and more purchases following a natural disaster or environmental disaster as they contribute and have emergency response teams that are present, washing the clothes of hurricane and tornado victims and helping wash oil off of waterfowl. Still, these human compassion stories do not build a productive consumer base consistently.

Others feel that as the security of living as become threatened by homegrown and international terrorism, people are not living for the future but rather “in the moment”. Loyalty is more a long-term goal that such people have no interest in and so they go for the quick return rather than the long-term investment. Still others claim the rise in poor parenting leads to a recognition and misguided loyalty to abusive parents and that results in a mistrust and lack of loyalty to anything.

The problem with these theories is that they discount the basic human condition of life and the desire to indeed live. Children often defend the abusive parent more strongly than not for a number of reasons. A subconscious sense of co-dependency is also seen by those joining cults or seeking to travel overseas to join radical groups that falsely portray themselves as religious when in fact they are simply power mongers. People are also discouraged from creating a scene or rocking the boat and so loyalty is used incorrectly and again by those more interested in boosting their own personal egotistical stock than in the company stock.

How we define spirituality and religion becomes an important factor in how we view loyalty. Defining loyalty is not an easy thing to do. Depending on your dictionary, it is either faithfulness to an idea, person, institution, or nation or simply being true to an ideal. Even the etymology of the word is argued. Some feel it dates back to the Latin “fidelis”, pertaining to something always strong, while others believe it originated from the Latin “lex”, meaning law. Some feel it is linked to the French “loialte” which denoted someone who had pledged allegiance and was therefore entitled to all legal rights so afforded.

In the book “The Philosophy of Loyalty”, written by Josiah Royce”, loyalty is described as a virtue or a moral principle. In fact, Royce felt loyalty to be the first virtue from which all others derived. He further described it as “the willing and [practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause”. Certainly the early Christians believed this. In fact, most religions advocate such devotion and loyalty. Many cults not only require it but they go a step further in keeping all practices secret, known only to those who are deemed loyal.

Loyalty becomes misguided when it is not returned. The “quid pro quo” principle should certainly be in use for those companies, groups, and organizations asking for loyalty. Goethe explained it this way: “You can easily just the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” Loyalty given should be loyalty returned and not based upon gifts given or status promised.

Loyalties can change, however, as time evolves, lessons are learned, and people grow. Jarod Kintz wrote: “Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person. To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.”

Loyalty which is destructive is manipulation and not loyalty deserved. Stephen covey advocates “Be loyal to those who are not present. In doing so, you build the trust of those who are present.” As the saying goes, respect is earned, honesty appreciated, love is gained and loyalty returned.

My Psalm 144

Dear Maker of all, Creator of my being:
Help my faith be true.
Show me the goodness I should trust;
Guide my steps toward the Light of Love.
As I try to live my life, O God, please be my guide.
I want my faith to be a fortress against the trials and tears.
Let my beliefs to be true and worthy.
In you is my trust, my faith, my loyalty.

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