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Fidelity, is the sister of Justice
Horace, Ancient Roman poet.

Its been an interesting time in terms of loyalty for me. Again the question arises in terms of the forum that I’m associated with. It brings into focus a sharp question, and requirews me to ask what loyalty is and who or what is it owed to. A person who embodied tenacious loyalty to FMG, the organisation and its ethos, has been moved to part ways with it, in a time when so many of us are willing to move on and throw our weight behind the new venture, our loyalty to the people behind the site, rather then the abstract site itself. It moves one to a meditation on loyalty.

What loyalty is, could probably be the subject of a protracted platonic dialogue. Its composed of so many components that its hard to describe. I would think that the core concept of it would be something along the lines (my legalistic mind at work here) of a duty owed to a person, to act in their best interests, and to support them and help them. It is effectively a duty to support them when they are wrong, for as Mark Twain so wisely said, almost anyone will support you when you’re in the right. It’s the notion of someone being on your team, on your side, one of your own, and that you willingly strive and struggle on their behalf. But it resonates at a deeper level than that in our minds. Loyalty is more then mere care for, or mere support, its a commitment really in the face of adversity, its too champion when others would penalise you for championing.

The other thing I’m wondering about is whats called the unit of selection in biology. It’s the question of what level of granularity is loyalty owed at. Do you owe it to the spirit of the organisation, the Boss, your seniors, your peers, your inferiors? Can loyalty be owed to ideas, to abstract entities, legal fictions? Can you really be loyal to a organisation, shouldn’t what you be loyal to is the people that make up these organisations?

All I can really offer is my own inadequate answers. I think that you need some sort of fusion of loyalty both to a person and an ideal. There is no problem in this, and indeed no problem arises until people begin to move their separate ways. What happens when the ideal that you owe your duty to, is no longer represented by the person that you owed that loyalty to. What if they have moved on and changed in some way that you cannot agree with. That though they are your leaders, they have lead you astray and away from what they should have done and rightly ought to be have expected to have done. I suspect that you end up as I feel now, straddled on the edge of a crack of the earth, one foot on either side and the gap in between slowly getting wider. It seems a difficult and almost unresolvable situation in some respects. To abandon one for the other involves a tremendous sacrifice on your part, but the end result in both instances can only be dissatisfactory. You end up with either your championing and supporting of ideas and suggestions that you feel are not correct, that are not in the best interest of what you should be supporting because they are the direction that the other wished to travel in and your duty to them compelled you to move in support of their postion. But intellectually you have become a whore, selling your own ideas for cheap, selling your own integrity and power of advocacy away from your cause, towards that of a cause that you don’t believe in. Its a hard dilemma, and not one I pretend to have any answers to. Just more and more questions.

The other side to this coin, of course is when does loyalty become a hinderance. When does your loyalty to an ethos or another abstract become impractical and uneccessary, some redundant emotional baggage that you are carrying on from times gone past, not caring to live in the here and now, because you are bound by a commitment that you made that is fictious now, and certainly not relevant to the here and now. Again I just don’t know. Do you betray the people that you trust and who you support out of duty to an abstract? How can that be right? Can you disassociate yourself from the real world where you can make an impact so that you can claim the ideological high ground in a battle already long since over? So many questions with no real or substantial answers. So much guess work and approximations. So many intuitive judgements and decisions that can’t be even understood by yourself let alone explained to others.

Loyalty is a key virtue to have, and it is something I believe that is a fundamental aspect of people that you can trust and put your faith in, that they have a residual loyalty to you and would not want to see you suffer any damage or detriment. This loyalty makes you valuable as part of a team and gives life to it. Now if only I knew what it is.



    • Kreg
    • Posted June 4, 2005 at 5:01 am
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    Dang MO!

    I just finished my exams and so thought i could finally get around to reading your blog and wow. And ouch too for all the times i havent been. Great questions. I had forgotten the way you could be deep like that. ive missed that in you. Wow. I miss you mate. Oh for 3:10 on a friday afternoon.

    • behappy
    • Posted June 9, 2005 at 11:22 pm
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    Spot on! Funny how I can always relate your discussions with my own experiences. It is too bad you do not have any answers because I have also been looking for them. 😉

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