What does is mean to be loyal? Loyalty as described in the dictionary is a faithful adherence to responsibility, obligation, and commitment. That does seem to sum up pretty coherently what it means to be loyal. I have had to find out the hard way that loyalty is one of the most important traits that all humans can and should exhibit. It is supposed to be a quality present in the people that we hold most dear to us and they should exhibit this trait time and time again. Yet, what I have found to be the truth is that the only things people are loyal to are themselves and their own personal interests. No one seems able to adhere to their responsibilities and commitments. We see examples of the lack of loyalty everyday in the relationships between men and women, companies and employees, sports teams and athletes, and governments and their constituents. No one seems to really want to honor this social contractual bond that is formed when people interact with one another. Why is that?
I envision a world where people love one another and speak to one another as if they were equals instead of just trying to get as much as they can from the situation, while exerting as little effort as possible. I see my daily interactions with people as an attempt to have fun and enjoy the exchange rather than trying to hustle or take advantage of others. But then I realize that that kind of idealized society just isn’t possible. I was in the store buying some oatmeal for breakfast when I realized that being selfish and untrustworthy is just part of who we are as humans beings. It is in our DNA to be self-serving and treacherous as much as it is for us to want to take our next breath, blink our eyes, or have the desire to reproduce. We can’t shut it off. As I began to look around the grocery store I realized the extent of our mistrust for one another. While I was in the grocery store I could see the sensors on the different items in the store, the shopping carts that have locks on them, the expensive bottles of alcohol are locked up in a cage, the store is equipped with cameras, there have to be dates and stamps guaranteeing the safety of the consumer on the meats and dairy products, and countless other precautions. Why do you think that is? Because people will try to steal, rob, pilfer, and lie in order to get what they need or to turn a profit. And if all of that isn’t telling enough there is a security guard at the door just to catch anyone who manages to slip through the “safety nets” that are set up. And this isn’t just at the grocery store, it is everywhere. Half our time is spent protecting what it took the other half of our time to procure.
Left to their own devices the people around you will and probably already have disappointed you. Apologies and acknowledgements of their transgressions just aren’t enough for me to absolve them for their breach of confidence. Trusting someone is very easy to do, gaining someone’s trust once it has been lost is near impossible. I always want to believe the best of people. I want to believe that if you give someone an opportunity to shine they will rise to the occasion. But that belief is just as crazy as world peace, the cessation of world hunger, or economic equality. The truth of the matter is that laws, rules, fences, barriers, all exist because people can’t stop themselves from wanting to take what is not theirs. They want do what is best for their own personal interest and that comes as a complete and total contradiction to what it means to be loyal. So the next time you hear a TV personality, an athlete, an owner, a politician, a loved one, a friend, a boss, or a fellow employee mention loyalty, remember that they are only loyal to themselves and will stab you in the back, screw you over, and take advantage of your naivety when it best suits them.