Loyal readers weigh in on subject of loyalty

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 6, 2002

The loss of loyalty is "the single greatest moral loss" in today's society, coffee companion Greg Axelson said in this column two weeks ago. In last week's column, Lorraine Champagne responded that if loyalty is endangered, it is because of increased self-interest and decreased personal integrity.

Here are some more responses:

The first note is from a coffee companion who fears loss of brand loyalty in selecting a new car is carrying over to human relationships:

TODAY'S DRIVERS have become free agents; they are able to taste a number of different vehicles from the menu. Is it possible that this automobile-world attitude has surfaced in the world of unconditional love? To this "new car" generation, giving one's word, and promising unconditional loyalty to that word, is frightening. They want to leave a back door open, an escape hatch for a new model.

—John Williamson, Calgary

"THANKS FOR reminding me that loyalty reveals itself in self-sacrifice," wrote another coffee companion:

YOU HAVE GIVEN me the perfect opening to wax eloquent about one of my favorite Bible characters, Hushai the Archite, the king's friend (1 Chronicles 27:33). I've always marvelled how "king's friend" could be an absolutely acceptable job title, like king's advisor, king's general or king's chef.

How did Hushai win such a humble yet esteemed title? He was loyal to Israel's King David in a grasping and ambitious court. When King David's life was in danger, Hushai stayed behind alone, at peril of death, to face the king's seditious son, Absalom.

I can see it now. Absalom, Mr. Absolutely and Terrifyingly Handsome, swept into David's court with the fire and fierceness of an F-18. And there at the end of the runway stood Hushai, head bowed and unarmed. [Absalom, blinded by his passion for power, failed to recognize the betrayal that ultimately cost him his own life.] Hushai, by putting his life on the line, helped save David's. Hushai, my hero and the one who orders my ducks into a row.

—Debbie Faulkner, Calgary

WAXING philosophical on loyalty and the struggle for dominance, the religion editor of the Calgary Herald responded with a note on prophet-of-despair Jean-Paul Sartre's dichotomy of "being and nothingness," in the light of Aristotle:

IF THERE IS a God, if the universe is a cosmos instead of a chaos, then, as Aristotle saw, the "other" is seen as another self, an elaboration of our shared possibilities as human beings. This is the foundation of what we call loyalty: the conviction that we are nothing without the infinitely deep and inexhaustible others whom we can reflect.

—Joe Woodard, Calgary

OUR FINAL response is also from a writer, Cochrane author and speaker David Irvine:

SPEAKING OF LOYALTY, it seems that we are not necessarily a "disloyal" culture, but one that is only loyal to ourselves. We come from a generation that saw our parents give up self-loyalty and sold their souls to the corporation, to relationships, and to institutions, and we have thus responded by taking the pendulum to the opposite extreme. But the answer is not self-centeredness (as we are learning amidst the spiritual desolation our culture is currently living in), nor is it in the abdication of the soul. We are in need of balance, and needing to attend to and to be loyal to both our soul and the world that we live in. It is a both/and, not an either/or... A challenge that the authentic journey asks us to stay with.

–David Irvine, Cochrane

THERE'S STILL more to say on this topic. In last week's column, Perry Wager raised one angle we haven't picked up on yet. He asked the disturbing question, "What of those who are loyal to what we believe to be evil?" (I'm assuming Perry is referring to loyalties such as those underlying conflicts in places like the Middle East.) What do you think?

© 2002 Warren Harbeck

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