Saturday, October 19, 2013

Loyalty: When do you give it and when do you give it up?

The subject of loyalty has been has been an ongoing theme in my life for some months now.  Not just what it is, but what loyalty isn't.  When does one stop being loyal to another and for what reason?  Most importantly, though, when is loyalty simply an illusion being cast?

The question of true loyalty versus illusion is something I have battled hard with, as of late.  Is loyalty one of those mutually beneficial relationships?  Both parties give and they receive from one another, but once the giving and receiving is over, what is left?  Is it an emotion?  Is it an expectation?  What happens when one party can no longer fulfill his or her end of the relationship in the same manner as before?  Does the relationship evolve and the parties find other ways to benefit each other or does the relationship breakdown completely and both parties end up going their separate ways?  The above makes loyalty sound like some kind of dysfunctional relationship based solely upon two parties using each other to get what they each want.  While this is how I see people using their loyalty, as something to barter with, I do not believe loyalty is something to be used in this manner.

I think back to my own friends and family and to those whom I have been quite loyal to through the years.  They are the people in my life who have not asked for much, but have given much in return.  This giving has inspired me to give back to them, not because I felt that I had to, but because I wanted to.  Even now, there are people in my life whom I have not spoken to in years, if they called upon me for anything I would do my best to fulfill their need.  I would do this, not for the 'reward' of being able to say that I was the one who did it, but because they thought enough of me to ask and because I know that if I were in the same place, they would do the same for me.  That is loyalty in my mind.  It is thinking highly enough of a person to go to them when you are in need, but also that person knowing that they can come to you when they are in need, no matter the time or distance.

So, if loyalty is giving what you can, when you can, then what about those people who like to cast the illusion of loyalty?  What about those people who say they are loyal, but their actions speak to something else?  Have you ever known anyone to look at you and smile and tell you that you can help them (when you offer) and yet they never present to you a way to help?  I have had many people in my life who have done this exact thing.  People who tell me, "Yes, you can help, but first I need to...."  Then, they don't proceed with the next step.  This mentality leaves me with expectations that are never fulfilled and, often, never again acknowledged by the other party.  After a time, these unfulfilled expectations are put to the side with feelings of resentment.  I have offered of myself, offered of my loyalty and willingness to do whatever I can because I want to help, and it is met with feigned enthusiasm and tossed to the side for whatever reason.  For my effort I am damned to failure without ever being able to try.  It often makes me wonder what these people really thought of me.

In my brain, that is not loyalty.  In my brain, that is using someone.  That is keeping up the illusion that a person matters to you when, in reality, they don't.  People are not meant to be used and then thrown away.  If a person is perceived to no longer be of use to you, then you should have the courage to tell them so.  You should have the honor to be able to look them straight in the eye and tell them that they are of no benefit to you.  This way, that person isn't left with expectations that are unreal and unfulfilled.  This way, that person knows exactly where they stand with you and there is no question of why things happened in the way they did.

I am learning much about the 'takers' in my life.  Their words speak volumes, but their actions scream their true intentions.  If loyalty is giving without expectation, at what point does one stop giving?  Is it when the disappointment becomes to great?  Well, that implies expectation.  So, then, can one stop giving and still be loyal?  It is a paradox.  If I offer my loyalty and you accept, then you create an expectation within me.  If that expectation goes unanswered, then disappointment is created in that place of expectation.  So, then, loyalty comes down to a matter of communication.  It is difficult to tell a person that you no longer need his or her help, especially after you have accepted it, yet, that giving back (with or without explanation) is owed to that person.  If they keep giving and you keep taking and doing nothing with it, then suddenly they will stop giving, whether or not you notice.  Once that happens, it probably means their illusions are shattered and they are no longer loyal to you and your purpose.  It also probably means that they have stopped caring to the same degree they used to.  Maybe they stopped caring all together.

A weird little holy man once told me, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  Keep this in mind as you offer and accept the help you want and give in your life because as people begin to see by your actions that their offers to help aren't appreciated, then they will stop offering.  Remember to always keep your word.  If you spend your life giving your word and not following through, people begin perceiving you as selfish.  As men and women of the Craft, we walk a path of service:  Service to our Gods.  Service to our community.

Brightest blessings, friends! 

1 comment:

  1. In reading this, it seems that loyalty and charity are one and the same to you...about giving of yourself without expectation of reward. Loyalty does include acts of charity, and of hospitality, but is not made up of the two. Loyalty is in itself the act of mutual support, an agreement of consideration of the benefit of that which you are 'loyal' to.
    In my life I have learned a very important thing about loyalty;
    "Loyalty above all, save for honor. Honor above all."
    To be loyal to a thing or person, it must remain 'honorable', or true, to the origin of itself and the agreement of loyalty. It must 'stand for something greater than the parts that make it to be honorable.' How can someone remain 'loyal' to a thing or person if it goes against their personal principals of belief, or losses honor in their eyes and hearts? To be loyal, one must believe in it to be something that is greater or better than oneself alone, and have the desire to become greater by giving unto it.
    Loyalty includes selfless sacrifice at times, and the act should reflect the desire to do so without expectations of reward for the act of loyalty. Loyalty, much like honor, is a shared or mutual thing, given freely, taking away nothing that would render one or the other into suffering alone. Through personal sacrifice, we also should gain in mutual benefit and or support by that which we are loyal to. Anything less is not honorable and strains the 'loyalty' of the 'giver' and makes the 'taker' a selfish user of those who are 'loyal' to it (or them).
    There will always be personal conflict with that which we share loyalty with or for, and that should always be openly discussed and grievances aired as to have open understanding of concerns. It your concerns are ignored or belittled as of no concern, then your loyalty to that person or thing is not truly reciprocated and your act(s) of giving are only being used to better or advance one who is not honorable nor worthy of your loyalty. Loyalty must be a two way avenue of mutual concerns.
    But my understanding is very bias and based on the Laws of Hospitality; Compassion, Protection, and Charity. Once all three can be applied with Honor to a thing or person, there you will find Loyalty, freely reciprocated, willingly available, and in itself a great reward.