#DailyWritingChallenge Day 19: Loyalty

Fidel, faithful, allegiance, devotion, support, true and sincere.

To be loyal to someone, something, an idea or concept to me means to both believe in and fight for that cause. As a teacher, I have been fiercely loyal to the children, schools and teams I have worked with and in over the years. I often wonder if being too loyal is a mistake because it is more upsetting when you leave and move on into pastures new. Betrayal bites hard if you are loyal too. Yet, at least you can walk away with the conviction that you did right by your morals. On the other hand, in the guise of loyalty, you may defend that which you disagree or think could be better; similarly you might promote something which you think is flawed and evidence suggests you are right. This is a hard conflict to navigate: what do we do when our loyalties are in question? Resort to discussing the issue and asking questions. The answer may help reinforce that loyalty or you may decide it’s time to break free, when another party is unwilling to listen.

Allegiance to Queen and country swear soldiers, but not without some willing cost: the risk of losing life in battle and subservience to superiors in the chain of command. Pride emanates from such sacrifice and a feeling, again that they are doing the right thing. And what of their enemies who feel the same way about their enlistment? What can humanity learn from such conflict? Why not show loyalty to the goodness of humanity and share peace instead?

Faithful in relationships: sticking by your family and partners through thick and thin. Dependability. Reliability. Trust. At its most visceral we might have seen ‘punch-ups’, a twentieth century reenactment of the medieval code of honour, to protect your name from shame. From Shakespeare’s plays, to the Golden Age of Spanish drama, to Juan Rulfo’s amazing ‘Pedro Páramo’, in which the protagonist discovers his family history from beyond the grave, loyalty is taken to its most violent extreme and blood is shed to defend honour and prove pure allegiance to one’s blood line. That dual loyalty doomed never to work in Classical tragedy: can anyone ever be truly loyal to more than one person or thing? Or, is this a dangerous path to extremes? Philosophers disagree on this and the jury is out.

In my personal realm, I am loyal to my family, my work and my close friends. I need to grow and be better at being loyal to myself. Too much selfless loyalty to another can be destructive and lead to feeling as if you have been taken for granted when this is probably not the case. It swings between empathy and mutual respect; sometimes compromises are required. Maintaining a balanced perspective that is loyal to purpose and self is key to self-care and avoiding burnout. We all need time to be loyal. Loyalty is very important to me.

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