True loyalty dare not be taken for granted
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 13, 2002
I'm writing this column on Remembrance Day (Veterans' Day, in the U.S.),
a day on which we especially pay tribute to the many who have laid down
their lives out of loyalty to their nation and to the principles of freedom.
To them I dedicate this column as we continue the theme of loyalty.
Our first letter is from globetrotting intercultural communication specialist
INTERESTING discussion, this loyalty stuff. Since I believe in the
existence of absolute truth, my view on loyalty in people is the same
as my view on sharpness of knives. Sharp knives are wonderful when cutting
apples for salad; sharp knives are horrible when cutting throats of
Loyalty, commitment, steadfastness and trustworthiness are wonderful
in marriage and in relationships that are lined up with truth, but they
are horrible in relationships lined up with error. Hitler's loyal troops
in the extermination camps spring to mind.
Jack Popjes, the Caribbean
IF LOYALTY is about commitment in relationships, then what about that
special relationship within a church congregation, asks the previous rector
of Cochrane's All Saints Anglican Church:
MY OWN TAKE on this issue is how members of a faith community, especially
those who have built up a network of friendships and responsibilities
for the well-being of that community, can either sneak away without
a word as easily as they would change grocery stores, or even become
careless about their responsibilities. On talking to some of these people
some time after their defection, it becomes painfully clear that they
are insensitive to the importance of their friendship and fellowship
for other members of the community who feel very hurt by the disappearance
of their friends.
Derek Dunwoody, Victoria, B.C.
CAN THE LOYALTY of others be taken for granted? No, says a part-time
student and writer who is currently looking after her 13-month-old grandson:
IF LOYALTY has become a rare quality, it may not be because so many
people have become irretrievably self-serving, but because so many people
who expect loyalty do nothing to deserve it.
Loyalty is like respect: it cannot be had merely for the asking. One
has to earn it, to demonstrate that one is worthy of it. I have heard
liars complain bitterly of their friends' disloyalty when their friends
declined to confirm their lies. I have heard the representatives of
businesses that provide shoddy goods and poor service complain as bitterly
of the "lack of loyalty" in their customers. I have watched an employer
fail to provide adequate training or compensation and then complain
vociferously of the "lack of loyalty" in his employees.
It has become chic to lament the passing of the old-fashioned virtues.
It is certainly easier to lament them than to display them. But anyone
who complains of lack of loyalty or respect or honesty or courtesy
or any other of the "old-fashioned" virtues should first ask
themselves if their conduct deserved the response they expected. The
answer, more often than not, will be that it didn't.
Kim Jochem, Winnipeg
WHEN I CONTACTED Kim about her letter, she added the following postscript:
I SELDOM have time to respond to what I read, but the idea that loyalty
is disappearing due to our increasing self-interest, to be quite frank,
irritated me. My friends have my respect and my loyalty because they
demonstrated time and again that they are people of intelligence, honesty,
strength, tolerance and generosity. I am fortunate in them, and it seems
only fair to them to point out that they have exactly what they've taught
me they deserved and that anyone who wants the same need only
do the same.
WHICH LEADS quite nicely into letters I've received dealing with several
other fundamental issues surrounding loyalty: loyalty to self, loyal companionship,
and spiritual formation in loyalty. But more on these next week. In the
meantime, have a look at Rob Reiner's 1986 movie Stand By Me.
© 2002 Warren Harbeck
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