Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 November 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Buying loyalty makes no sense

“Loyalty 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 loyalty.

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 exceedingly rare.

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, abandoned.


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 specific commitments.

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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