The Question of Loyalty
author:Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD
Loyalty seems like a quality that’s becoming increasingly harder to find, whether it’s employee loyalty to a company, consumer loyalty to a product or loyalty among family and friends. Although loyalty seems to be fading, it isn’t gone; many people still feel a sense of loyalty to the people, country and organizations in their lives. The important thing to know about loyalty is that trust is the cornerstone of loyalty.
Loyalty is a symbiotic relationship based on mutual benefit. It is very difficult to receive loyalty when loyalty is not given. According to Dr. Paul T. P. Wong, “Loyalty is born out of a reciprocal relationship and mutual trust. It is difficult to remain loyal, when loyalty is not reciprocated. It would be difficult to continue a relationship after the betrayal of a trusted friend.” Without loyalty it would be challenging for any relationship to survive long-term. Loyalty is the foundation of all healthy, trustworthy and long-lasting relationships.
For years I thought commitment was one of my core values. It is important for me to do what I say I will do, keep my word and stand by the people in my life. But I have lately been re-examining my sense of commitment and I now realize that what I really value is loyalty. What is important isn’t just my commitment to others but, also, theirs to me. I expect people to keep their word, be trustworthy and stand by me. I expect loyalty, of which commitment is a part, but loyalty is a much deeper quality and goes both ways. A former friend became former due to her lack of loyalty. She had a nasty habit of gossiping about me and telling others everything I told her. The final act was when we were at a party, and she began berating me in front of others. In my value structure, friends do not gossip about one another, nor do they exploit or misuse their loyalty.
Loyalty, it seems to me, is very delicate. It can takes years to build, but only minutes to destroy. To create loyalty, one must be willing to be loyal. Although there is risk in being loyal, there is a much greater risk in not being willing to extend loyalty. Without being a loyal person, one’s chances of finding others who demonstrate loyalty are slim. According to Dr. Wong, “The audacious quest for true human worth cannot end without finding authentic loyalty. Blessed are those who have discovered it. Life is worth living when there are trustworthy friends and larger causes deserving our loyalty.”