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Confidentiality is a virtue of the loyal, as loyalty is the virtue of faithfulness.
Edwin Louis Cole

Loyalty doesn’t mean obedience or adherence; it implies keeping the interest of near and dear ones at heart by following your own set of values.  Quite often, your peers and your friends test your degree of loyalty by your decisions and reactions during certain events. When my entire class planned for a bunk in the Maths class, I refused to come along with them as I really liked that subject. Most of my peers considered me a dork but my friends cared enough to understand and make up with me later; the rest never cared enough either way. And I lived with the satisfaction that I had not betrayed myself just in order to be one with the group.

So, if your mom has had an argument with the neighbours, woe betide you if you were to point out that the next-door aunty had a valid point. It may be clear to everyone that the boss’ viewpoint is baseless, but very few will raise an objection and risk being considered disloyal. On the other hand, indulging his every whim and assisting him in every desire, no matter how harmful to him, becomes recognized as an act of loyalty.

Blind faith or loyalty in a dog is a laudable virtue, but when it comes to human beings, it becomes a questionable one. Very often, we are expected to display loyalty to our in-groups — friends, the family unit, workplace colleagues, religion, politics or sports clubs — without using our own judgment, just because we ‘belong’. Well, I don’t consider this laudable at all and instead I consider it dumb to be following others blindly. We should not forget who we really are amongst the pressure of loyalty by our surroundings. People may find you bothersome and may get agitated with you for such a behavior but we should never show truth and intellect the backseat  during such situations.

When truth and loyalty are in conflict, we should have the wisdom and courage to decide what to do. Unconditional loyalty is outmoded; loyalty should be conditional, based on our own set of values. A consciousness of this would give one the courage to take unpopular stances that go against the prevailing misguided opinions in groups. Silence can also be looked upon as complicity if we quietly go along with something we do not believe in. Loyalty to ideas, religion and politics is good only so long as it helps us relate with like-minded people and protects us, giving us a sense of belonging. It is good so long as it does not encourage narrow-minded bigotry. One needs to keep re-examining ideas in different contexts and bring a new light and fresh air to old, antiquated beliefs.

Loyalty must be tempered with truth and intelligence and must adhere to the values one holds dear. It should not be confused with obedience or adherence, but should be looked upon more as a feeling, an emotion, a bonding with someone for whose benefit you are prepared to go to great lengths.


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