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.
Ask yourself this: what kind of "friend" are you being if you stand idly by while your buddy chips away at his own integrity by committing "small white lies and violations"?
A big part of loyalty is watching your friend's back. If he's doing something self-destructive, you have a responsibility, as his loyal friend, to help him. If he refuses your help (and his self-destructive behavior is harming or has the potential to harm others), then you have a higher responsibility to go to someone in authority to help you correct him. Tough love isn't just a catchphrase; sometimes, it's the defining mark of the only true friend.
It sounds like you're talking specifically about a friend in the military, where honor codes are a key element of who you are as a soldier. Ask yourself what kind of commissioned officer he would be if he hasn't gotten his act together?
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.
Agreed, for the most part. I thought you communicated your point about choosing friends very clearly, and I couldn't agree more. We become like those with whom we associate, so our closest friends should be carefully chosen.
The only part I'd personally tweak is your loyalty hierarchy. I believe one's loyalty should be to God, spouse (if you have one), family, and friends, respectively. Of course, the first one is dependent on your own faith (if any), but I find that having a primary loyalty to God makes all of the others fall in line without so much conflict.
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?
There's a difference between being a permissive friend and an accountable friend. I don't think I need to clarify which is better; you need to choose for yourself which you'll be.
If you catch your buddy in a lie, call him on it. If he cops to it and purposes not to do it again, then he has maintained his integrity. If, however, he becomes indignant and takes an attitude of "screw the system" (which he agreed to be a part of, mind you), then he has lost his integrity and isn't worthy of your trust. A man upholds his commitments and promises, whether they are to friends or overarching organizations.
Who is morally and/or ethically right, your buddy or the system? If your buddy is right, then maybe that particular "system" isn't for either of you. If the system is right, then your friend needs to man up, admit to his bad behavior, and try to do better. It's your job as his "best friend [who] would do anything for him and he would do the same for you" to keep him in check and help him become the man he wants to be. Iron sharpens iron.
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