Loyalty is an Aspect of Society

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That is interwoven in ways we never think about. From small ways to major ways, it is all around us. Loyalty is the act of being loyal; showing constant support or allegiance to a person or an institution. This word was derived in the mid-13th century from the Middle English term “leaute”. It was embodied through the loyalty oath that was first documented in 1852. This oath symbolized the principle of allegiance and togetherness. It primarily focuses on conduct and is practiced by showing enthusiasm and devotion for that individual or institution. The first major acts of loyalty that were shown were the military forces for the countries. The military leaders and generals expected their troops to be enthusiastic about fighting for their country, even if that meant dying. They were expected to accept death as an honor for fighting and staying true to the crown and country. There is no greater loyalty than the one that people would die for. The royal family expected devotion from everyone in their country, regardless of status. Other meanings of the term loyalty include devotedness, commitment, and fealty. Antonyms of loyalty are perfidiousness, deceit, and treachery.

I compare and contrast loyalty to the term dependability. It is similar because with dependability, there is a sense of righteousness and credibility. With both loyalty and dependability, there is a sense of certainty to them. When compared, I think of loyalty as being dependable. The person or thing can be turned to no matter what and is always there. When contrasted, loyalty it is an act of being true and reliable, whereas being dependable is a trait. Loyalty is a key principle that some people deem more important other traits and values. It is a concept that has built and ruined many relationships and aspects in life. People who do not trust easily can argue that to have a person’s absolute loyalty will never happen. No one is completely loyal to one particular thing or place because there are many more aspects in life where loyalty is desired, requested, or demanded. If someone’s loyalty is divided up between many things, then it becomes impossible for that individual to give their true and complete loyalty to a single thing or person.

The way that I describe and think about loyalty is in terms of fondness. One is faithful to the person or institution that they are loyal to. I do not see it as a person having a total of 100% loyalty, and then it being divided into multiple aspects of life. It is not like my relationship gets 70% of my loyalty, my gym gets 10%, my place of employment gets 10%, and my school gets 10%. I see it as an act. For example, I give my full attention, effort, and focus to the task at hand. My boyfriend, who I am loyal to, once said, “what is important right now?” From that day forward, I had that mindset, and it almost prioritizes my tasks allowing me to pay full attention to the thing I’m doing at that moment. That task at hand gets my undivided attention, effort, and commitment. Then after I am done with that task, I move on to the next. Nothing is divided, it is not a total of 100% broken down. When observed, it will be apparent that 100% of my loyalty and effort was given during the time allotted for that person or task.

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In a relationship aspect, friendship or intimate, I see it as a promise. A promise is made to remain devoted to your partner or friend. This could be temporary or last the duration of the relationship. It is reliability and faithfulness consolidated, and it also comes with a sense of honor and respect, and admiration. When in any kind of relationship, the expectation remains that the other person will not cheat, and they will remain faithful and devoted. People fail at being loyal much more than they do at keeping that devotion, so when they do, it is a special thing. The individual is not staying faithful and devoted because they must, but it is because they truly want to and care.

When thinking in terms of things that hold my loyalty and interest, I think of my place of employment and my sports team I play for. When I was hired, I made a promise to my boss to try my best no matter what. I promised to give my maximum effort every time I walked through the door and to be reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. Sometimes I fail, and do not hold true, but I do the best I can. If they need assistance, I will do anything that I can to help them or the situation. Regarding my sports team, I am loyal to South Carolina United Fùtbol Club. I will not go play for another team as long as I have a contract with the club, and I will do my best. I will be completely devoted to my club and I will try to get better with each step I make on the field. In more of a social context, I think of things on a deeper more broken down level. Places of employment and relationships are obvious things where loyalty is held; however, most people do not think about things like doctor’s/dentist offices, gym places, schools, and housing developments. The every-day institutions or circumstances that are visited and not thought about. The places are viewed as a task that needs to be completed, and not the relationship that the individual has with other individuals or places. I relate this back to the chapters we are reading about in “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. We think about these things as items, and not how they affect us and the relationship we have with them.

The dentist/doctor’s offices want to assume that the customer will keep coming back for their services. The patient fills out the information on their first visit, and then when done with the service, the patient is almost pressured to make an appointment before they leave. If they do not, they will get a text or email asking when they want to make the appointment. They are insisting and indirectly ensuring that the customer will come back to the institution. Gyms are places that also expect your loyalty when you sign up. They make the single sessions so overpriced that you want to buy a package or sign up for a membership. Most of them have contracts that you can sign that are labeled “one-year loyalty plan”. Schools/universities are a huge part of people’s lives, that demand loyalty for years at a time. Tuition is paid, and the student attends and devotes all of their time and energy to getting good grades for themselves, the institution, and the price. Focus and energy are expected along with giving the maximum effort to attain success for the student and make the institution’s rates look better. When an apartment or a house is purchased or rented, many papers have to be signed. The signatures ensure the contract and residency in this location will be fulfilled and honored before relocating. All of these examples require a high level of commitment that is expected, whether you sign a contract or not.

Loyalty, directly or indirectly, does not just affect the person committing the act or receiving the act of loyalty. Many other individuals are affected and influenced by the acts of honor. It is important to have a sense of loyalty and pride because many crucial aspects of society are dependent on others’ ability to be reliable. For example, the gym owner is relying on the customers to pay their monthly fees so he can afford to keep the building, equipment, and pay the staff. Whether it is realized or not, the people affected by acts of loyalty care how it is honored and how it impacts them.

The person who is receiving loyalty cares because they are putting their trust and faith into someone, even though they have a chance of getting hurt or swindled. Even though it can be scary or risky, they are relying on the giver to stay true to them. Between the receiver and the giver, the act of loyalty is almost always reciprocated. Friends and family members are most of the time affected, as well as individuals we do not think about. Every single person that attends the gym has a contract that the owner depends on to maintain the atmosphere. The owner’s family is affected because it is how he provides for them. His staff and their families depend on the workplace as well as the business of the customer to provide money so they can earn a living. Personally, it affects me and my workout partner. If we did not have a loyal relationship between gym and the customer, we would not have a place to go and feel better about ourselves. Hope (my friend) would not be motivated to exercise, and her health would decline again. We would both fall into our old unhealthy routines and it would have a super negative impact on our physical, mental, and emotional states. The other people who are realized are the individuals who are not seen. As humans, it is rare that we think about how we affect others by our actions and words. The gym is a matter of life and death for some people. They go because they realize they need to try to change, otherwise, them being unhealthy or overweight will cause health problems eventually resulting in death. It takes a lot to realize you have a problem, and if they overcome that struggle and work hard, they will be blessed with life and healthy habits. If the relationships of loyalty become unreliable or broken then so many families, friends, and lives are affected.

Loyalty is such an important concept that everyone should take time to dissect, think about, and appreciate. It is important to realize how crucial it is in everyday life. It is taken for granted because people only partially perceive it. People know what it is, but do not think about the vast role loyalty plays in everyday life. Societal networks rely on every single connection that is made; loyalty provides that reassurance. It makes it possible to carry out everyday functions and tasks, with ease and certainty!

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