Monday, May 24, 2010

Loyalty - What Does it Really Mean?

Loyalty is a word that is mentioned so casually in today's society. It is described in the dictionary as steadfast in allegiance, or being faithful to a person or ideal. We are shown by the media that it's okay to want more and to have choices. This has affected our society's idea of loyalty in many ways.

In the movies, the typical Italian family story tells of their strong ideas of loyalty. These movies usually end destructively because of the disloyal actions of its characters. My idea of loyalty involves two or more people that create relationships that are based on mutual respect and at times silent dedication. It seems that our society has forgotten the core meaning of this word. It seems that a more modern definition of loyalty means to be loyal to ones self. Everyone is so focused on all of the choices that they are given, that they have forgotten about staying loyal to one person or situation.

The idea of valuing our relationships and staying loyal seems to have taken a back seat to immediate gratification. It is only human to gravitate to what is new and exciting. We have lost the determination and patience that it takes to stay in a relationship that isn't working for us. Many people enter a marriage without even seriously thinking about the kind of dedication and loyalty that it takes to stay married.

We often look at our elders and wonder about how they stay married for so long. Many of their marriages last for over fifty years. What have they figured out that we haven't? If you question some of them, they'll tell you that there are no hidden secrets. When I asked some of my elderly friends about that, I noticed that the words that were repetitively mentioned were loyalty and dedication. It's a matter of taking the good times in with the bad. Isn't that part of what keeps us loyal to one another? If you decide that the bad times aren't worth dealing with, then you could be letting go of something that could be potentially meaningful.

Some people enter into relationships and wonder why things didn't work out the way they expected. They create a situation where they expect to get everything and give nothing in return. This seems like a waste of time for both parties involved.

Another example are the characters that are portrayed in various television shows that show how its okay to backstab each other as long as you stay loyal and true to yourself. The attention is usually focused on the person that is the most self centered. This has become popular in our media.

The pure emotion of loyalty can only come from strong feelings of respect for ones self and for others. When someone is lacking that quality they usually end up in short term relationships, careers, and marriages. This can lead to a very lonely and solitary lifestyle. Perhaps that's why so many people end up living their life alone in our society.

The absence of loyalty can also affect the depth of our relationships that we have with each other. Sometimes this happens within families. There are invisible bonds of loyalty that exists within most families. When those bonds are broken, silent resentment takes place. This can go on for years.

Loyalty is not something that can be discussed without a show of actions behind it. Overall, it seems that everyone still understands what it means to be loyal. That has not changed. It's the desire to unselfishly commit to each other that seems to be changing in our society. I have realized that it's an important part of every relationship. When we question whether someone is being loyal to us, maybe we should look at our own actions. Are we showing loyalty to those that we love? Sometimes it's a simple question like that that helps us to put everything back into perspective.

Michelle Joseph

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