Loyalty is a lucid term in many contexts; it involves the sole commitment to someone and the adherence to their principles and allies. We expect it from our partners: to have fidelity in our relationship. We expect it from our dogs: to obey our commands and love us. We expect it from our best friends: to hate those we hate with no personal vendetta of their own but that of a mutual respect of our feelings. We even expect it of employees: to promote the company they work for and resign from activity in others.
Yet how often do we feel as though we have been betrayed by someone? How often do those we care about wound us by ignoring unspoken laws or daring to cross sides of unmarked lines? As human beings we feel as though a mutual relationship with someone guarantees their strict cooperation in all matters of ethical and personal vilification.
There are so many little unwritten rules about your loyal companions not being friends with someone that once bullied you or perhaps made you jealous. The lines become blurred when the person in question did no wrong to your friend, and yet you still expect them to hold the person in the same esteem that you do.
Why? Loyalty is a personal term, it stems from the feeling of support and companionship, and what may be petty to some, forms a basis on the value your friends place on your feelings. In your mind, a friend who is also friends with your enemy becomes somebody you can no longer trust. You feel as though they have abandoned you. It is disbandment. The distrust embitters the friendship and you find yourself editing the relationship to make room for the foreboding presence of your enemy and their new confidant. What do they speak of? What side does your friend take in terms of conflict between the pair of you? Insecurity is at its highest at this point.
That is the crux of it: insecurity; the antonym of loyalty’s sole comfort. It is only when you remove your emotional attachment to the issue that you begin to see loyalty without prejudice. Surely your friend does not belong to you, yet you feel as though it is part and parcel of being in a friendship. You remember a time you were friends with someone who your parents didn’t like or who was mean to a friend and rationalise it to yourself: it’s different.
Loyalty cannot be a matter of degrees. It cannot be less or more: it is an absolute. Yet with so much hate in the world already do you need the hate of your friends to make your feel better about old wounds? Wouldn’t an open and clear-minded take on each side – not just your own – help you to grow as a human being? Hate harbours hate. Understanding promotes growth.
There are some things that are unforgivable. Yet most of the time we forget that the pettiness of old scars can turn us into insecure and bitter versions of ourselves. It is wise to be careful of people that have hurt us, yet unwise to expect others to hate just as we do.