I thought that was a great article today on loyalty. I too, agree that loyalty is one of the single most important things that a man can hold. To be loyal to his friends and have his friends be loyal to him in return to me is the purest accomplishment a man can strive for. I have friends who I would do anything for because I have been through so many tough and testing times. Some of these are times that perhaps we were lucky to get out of but our loyalty to each other helped us through. However, now I am at a different point in my life. I am currently a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy and the debate over loyalty vs. the honor code is a heated debate. As cadets we all swore not to lie, steal, cheat, or tolerate anyone who does, but where does loyalty fall in this. If we are absolutely loyal to a man but yet we see him tell a small lie or download illegal music does this mean we can longer trust him and report him for a breaking the honor code, which has repercussions of being dismissed from the Academy, never to be commissioned as an officer. Or do you remain loyal and cover for him as we know his true strength of character and are confident in the fact that he would make a great officer in the military despite some small white lies and violations. Where does loyalty to a man end and loyalty to a system begin.
This is something I struggle with. Human nature, it is not a simple thing. Not at all...
My wife is constantly telling me, when I have an issue I raise with her, asking her advice, to "Pick My Battles". Peckham, I have no idea what your life has been to this point, but as humans we all have foibles, and there will always be moments when our personal code is tested. To be completely unyielding, as I have learned to my dismay, is to alienate yourself, and you'll do nothing but beat against a brick wall. When done with your fist, it gets you nowhere.
I suggest that you search for individuals in your life who will exhibit characteristics that you yourself find to be attractive and worthy of respect. Model yourself after these individuals, and be loyal to THEM. An honor code is a great idea, but soneone else's honor code is not going to cover all situations, and is all too black and white. We exist in the grey, and you would do well to remember that. What is grey is relative. Your code could be all too unbending, or even too loose for me, or any of these other guys.
Be true to you. Find those you respect, and be the best you can. If someone else chooses to break an oath, so be it.
And, admittedly...if the behavior is becoming self destructive, then you don't want to let it continue. I counsel caution, however. Make the wrong person angry, and your career may very well be over before it begins. In my post above, what I think I may not have gotten across well, is that you have to choose your friends. Choose wisely, and then be loyal to yourself, your friends, and then all others. In that order.
Peckham, You are responsible to not only the military system, but also to everyone around you, to your buddy, and to yourself. If you have a specific person that is not acting with the highest level of integrity, and the issues are something that can be corrected, speak to them first. Let them know why you think that it is an issue, and make them understand exactly what it means to follow the code that they swore to uphold. If they decide not to change, then it becomes an issue of your loyalty to the Service, and a matter if you think that you or anyone else would want to serve with someone that didn't have the intestenal fortitude to control themselves.
The one thing that this argument always comes down too is trusting the integrity of your best friend or trusting n the system. When somone is your best friend and you would do anything for him and he would do the same for you where does the system belong. If you here your friend tell a small lie the systems response is for you to turn him in because they say if he lies on the small things he will lie on the big things, but yet this goes against every gut feeling you have. You know that he is perhaps the most trustworthy person when the s*ht hits the fan, even though the system dosent believe his crediblity because he lied once. If you tolerate his lieing then you yourself have broken the system but where does your loyalty lie the system and the responses your programmed to do or do you hold your loyalty to your gut instincts. If you can't trust your own instincts and best friend in the world then who can you possible trust?
Thanks for all the advice. This is hypothetical and I hope I don't get put in a situation where I have to decide where the loyalty lies but it always good to think about in case I ever get in that situation. Sometimes right and wrong isn't as black and white as we would like it to be and the only way to decide I believe is individually. A code is a good thing to live by but perhaps there are flaws in the system in the fact that we live in a world interpreted by people and not every situation can be defined in a set of words, but I believe the spirit of the what the system is trying to achieve is what we have to judge actions on.
As a kid I was in the Civil Air Patrol and later joined the Marines. I started having these conversations at the age of 12. I was VERY idealistic. Life and the world have a way of changing the idealistic. That being said..........
There is something deeper here that I haven't seen others comment on. At the top level it's easy to follow the honor code. Don't lie, cheat, steal right? It's easy because these are simple. Once you agree to abide by this code.....you get hammered with the details (did you copy your friends MP3 and not pay the band for their song?). Do you think that means you have no integrity? Is that what a makes a traitor out of a good American? Is this what turns all good kids into Crazed drug addicts soon after they take their first hit off a Joint?? That whole slippery slope thing always make me laugh.
You didn't sign on to be a perfect human being and nobody is. We make judgment calls all of our life. There is NO easy answer to your question and you'll be left to determine for yourself if your friends imperfections are a greater indicator of his willingness to betray his friends, his comrades, his fellow citizens. Can his mistakes accurately reflect his propensity to "fall" deeper into the abyss??? Maybe.
Just something to consider......there is NO black and white answer and in the end it will be your judgment call to help safeguard the integrity (not perceived integrity but REAL HONEST TO GOD "Can we trust this guy with a gun and secrets and our lives" INTEGRITY) of your group.
Either way, can you look at yourself in the mirror and say "I'm doing the right thing"? No one's perfect and it's a rare person who can live the honor code every single day. The core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do are goals that we work towards every day. You swore an oath to the Constitution and signed a contract with the US government. I believe your higher loyalty is to the oath and contract.
You specifically asked if you should cover for a friend who broke the honor code. But you will break the honor code by not reporting his actions. I agree with confronting him first and giving him a chance to correct his actions/words. Not to sound out of line, but it's not for you to judge wheter or not he'll make a great officer. That's why military training programs exist.
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