Buying loyalty makes no sense
to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.”
- Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, an
American author and humorist.
For the past several decades, whatever government was in power had
depended on bought loyalties of legislators: bought by money; by the
privileges and prize of position, perks that perk them up, and other
inducements that cater to human bodily demands and greed. Sometimes it
is, purchased on assumptions based on falsehood and false beliefs.
That being that it must be emphatically stated, the strength,
qualities, characteristics of a people, in the order of its importance
and esteem, has to be honesty, number one; respect next; and absolutely
the third has to be loyalty.
Not many, if any, of our legislators will qualify to have any single,
let alone all three of these traits. Hence, when it comes time to, be
bought and traded; they will all claim loyalty to the country; but not
to any cause or even a government of which they are a part of, which
they will say has lost faith of the people and deserves not their
Thus, swift as swallows, they cleverly will change loyalties. It is
said, and I believe it to be rightly so, that an ounce of loyalty is
worth a pound of cleverness. But our legislators; having no values,
strength, character, or even cleverness; and putting faith in, and
possessing only, the characteristics of cunning and disloyalty; will bid
farewell to any sworn cause, if the time and price is right: Faithless
is he that says farewell, when the road darkens.
Thus, we seem to face a future in which the only dependable
relationships will be opportunistic transactions. Do you expect such
people to do any good, let alone serve other people and die for them?
No; yet they will hesitate not to ask you to die for them and their
causes which are nothing more than self-enrichment.
The fact that many ordinary, intelligent people venture forth to do
so amazes me no end. It only proves that all men are loyal, but their
objects of allegiance are at best approximate. Hence, the question: if
loyalty could be, bought, and traded as if a commodity; does it make any
sense, buying it? Such people could be, bought again, and again, and
again. Fidelity purchased with money, money can destroy. Hence, does it
make any sense for a government to depend on such people? Does it make
any sense for the people to rely upon a government, any government,
which depend on the purchased fidelity of legislators?
The merits and demerits of loyalty are, often debated. Philosophers,
authors, politicians, business-persons and others have thought long and
hard about the merits and consequences of loyalty. Loyalty, usually seen
as a virtue, is albeit a problematic one.
In fact, human frailties are such that faithfulness to the emotional
life is like what consistency is to the life of the intellect - simply a
confession of failures. As a result and most often than not, what people
call their loyalty, and their fidelity, is nothing more than their
custom, their convenience, their lack of imagination.
Thus, it is not an easy thing to give one’s honest loyalty to
someone, especially when that someone chooses to reveal nothing, or so
little of him-self. We place an enormous premium on loyalty. If someone
betrays us, we may forgive him or her rationally; but emotionally, we
may find it impossible to do so. Yet, the fact is that many things in
life depend on loyalty; and without loyalty, families are broken,
friendships are empty, governments topple. However, loyalty can also be
a double-edged sword. Yet, no one can deny that it is one of the most
valuable gifts in the world; but as valuable as it is, it can also be
Perhaps one of the reasons that it is such a rare quality these days
is that loyalty is easily misplaced. How many times have we given our
loyalty to a person or a cause only to realize that our trust has been,
betrayed and our faith broken? Loyalty ought to be a bond shared until
death; but loyalty to an unjust cause is a perversion of honor.
Courage, kindness, loyalty, truth, and helpfulness are always the
same, always needed, and will determine the quality of the human. A
human being is born with feelings of envy, greed, hate.
If a person gives way to them, they will lead him to violence and
crime; and any sense of loyalty, and good faith he has will be,
The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity
with other human beings; and solidarity over time builds loyalty, or at
least it ought to. But do our legislators have this sense, or any sense
for that matter, when they proclaim loyalty to a cause or person
publicly, yet leverage privately? Anything that our legislators
consider, as an advantage of any kind to them will make them break their
word, even if it leads to a loss of self-respect and shame; provided the
benefits, in their estimation, is larger and worth.
This, in spite of the fact that as far back as the second century
before Christ the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote: Never esteem
anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or
lose your self-respect.
Of course, that was during a period when self-respect and such things
were, considered as values to be proud of. I suppose it matters not in
these modern days in which loyalties and relationships only depend on,
and are expressed by pressing ‘like’ on your iPhone. Until recently,
loyalty did not attract much philosophical attention.
As a matter for thought, I will pose the question: If loyalty
concerns its status as a virtue, and if that status is granted; what are
the limits to which loyalty to loyalty ought to be subjected? The strong
feelings and devotion often associated with loyalty have led some to
assert that loyalty is only, or primarily, a feeling or sentiment - an
affective bond that may express itself in deeds. Thus, is it only an
instinct to sociability? Is that the reason why the nature of loyal
attachment is a matter of debate?
However, posing the issue as one of either practical disposition or
sentiment is probably too stark, because dimensions of the phenomenon
that we now recognize as loyalty are as ancient as human association,
albeit often manifested in its breaches. The Old Testament writers were
continually occupied with the fickleness of human commitments, whether
to God or to each other.
To characterize it, they tended to use the language of faithfulness
and unfaithfulness; though nowadays we might be inclined to use the more
restricted language of fidelity and infidelity, which has regard to
Although our primary loyalties tend to be associations or groupings
that are socially valued, it is such that loyalty may seem to be an
important practical disposition, which need not be the case.
In theory, any association can become intrinsically important to us,
whether or not it is generally valued or socially despised. Cricket
teams, coffee chains, gangs and crime, families, may become objects of
loyalty no less than professional associations and siblings. This raises
the important question whether judgments about the worth of loyalty, and
its worth as loyalty to loyalty, are reducible to judgments about the
worth of the associations to which loyalty is given.
Does loyalty have any value independent of the particular
associational object with which it is connected or does its value bound
up exclusively with the object of loyalty? Some would argue that loyalty
is virtuous or vicious depending on what is done out of loyalty.
Others would argue that loyalty is always virtuous, though overridden
when associated with immoral conduct. I will leave it to my readers, who
I consider intelligent, to decide.
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