Recently, a friend of mine recounted the story of someone who preached loyalty to a given group, only to fail to reciprocate it when it was needed. This friend needed help. Not a lot, but an errand that would take about an hour or so, and no money on their part, but nope. Nothing. This despite years of “be loyal” lectures.
I shouldn’t have to feel obligated to say this, but loyalty needs to be a two-way street.
Instead, what often happens is that an individual–the one preaching the need for loyalty to a family, employer, team, or whatever–is really simply expecting someone to be loyal to them. They often don’t really plan on returning that loyalty.
Once, I heard a business owner lament the lack of loyal employees. “They jump ship the moment someone offers them more money,” he whined. “People used to stick with a job for life.”
Unfortunately for him, I also knew this business owner. I remember a friend being fired by him for something ridiculous, but everyone knew was because he’d missed time from work to deal with his wife’s cancer treatment. He locked onto whatever he could to try and justify the termination.
The problem for this business owner is that his other employees saw this and recognized that for all his bluster about “loyalty” and “family,” he didn’t see any reason to return the sentiments.
So, they left.
There are families that preach this, but really just expect the kids to be loyal to Mom and Dad. There are coaches that expect players to be loyal to the team, but when the players need help? Nothing.
With a family, a parent wanting loyalty from his kids–or expecting the kids to be loyal to one another, even–needs to return that loyalty. I’ve gone to war for my kids when they were in the right, and I don’t regret it. I expect them to do the same for me or their mother…or each other. It’s a two-way street.
Being true to one another is such a simple thing that none of us should ever have to discuss it, but it’s yet another thing that’s being undermined throughout society. Even the sacred bonds of matrimony are approached as if they can be tossed aside easily. There’s no loyalty there to strengthen those bonds.
If you expect loyalty from others, then lead by example. Step up, be loyal to them as well, and make damn sure those people can tell. If you’re loyal to them, then it’s a lot easier to expect it in return.
Of course, then it hurts more when they’re disloyal, but you’re only responsible for your actions.