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Why Loyalty is so Important

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People all have their own individual selfish drives to advance in life and be successful. But some of the most coveted things all involve and require loyalty. In sports, every player, team, and fan want loyalty. In politics politicians want loyalty, and supporters want loyalty back. Friendship is a confusing one; if we are all working for our own selfish motivation, why does friendship-where you help others- exist? If we all are working according to the “invisible hand” as Adam Smith called it, why do we make loyalty such an integral part of our lives?

In an article written by Sports Illustrated Columnist Thomas Lake, he discusses his favorite NFL team since his early childhood, the Atlanta Falcons. The Atlanta Falcons were a below average team for most of it’s existence, but ever since his grandfather’s encouragement to follow the falcons as a kid, he has never even thought of picking a different team. The article is written with an unsure ending, implying that the falcons may lose-as they did. But Thomas and his brother “walk into the night, looking straight ahead” after a late season game, as the Falcons intercepted a probowl Quarterback-Drew Brees- five times and won the game. He knows that the Falcons are still a team that can let him down, but he loyally sticks with them as he has for decades. Loyalty to sports teams from the fan side of sports can be undying to the point of irrationality. I see this every year as I watch my dad struggle every year as his favorite team, the jets, can never win a championship and he always comes back rooting harder the next year. I know this firsthand as well, as my favorite NBA team, the Orlando Magic, are going through troubling, or “rebuilding” times as well, as I like to say. The loyalty of the fan can be unwavering through the most difficult of times.

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Additionally, one may ask whether or not the players, who the fans worship, can reciprocate the loyalty and staunch support shown by the fans. Some players make the most frustrating decisions. Albert Pujols left the cardinals and signed with the Angels. Shaquille O’Neal joined the Lakers over the Magic by which he was drafted. Ray Allen jumping ship with the rival heat after being eliminated by them in the semis while on the Celtics. Lebron broke his promise to Cleveland that he would win with them once when he took his “talents to south beach”. The list goes on and on of heartbreaking betrayals by stars. Ultimately, in a world where fans live to support their team, it’s much easier than it should be to find cases where players throw away the devotion shown to them by fans. Ultimately, the sport runs on the mostly unrequited loyalty the fans show towards their teams.

Political loyalty means nothing to some political aides, as seen in the NY Times article Political Loyalty (or Lack of It) in the Tell-All Era by Frank Bruni. He points out that in older days and better times, our political information came from willful interviews. There was a certain respect when aides and assistants would agree to secrecy. Now? It’s become futile, and off the record news is common. People breach their loyalty agreements with parties all the time and desecrate the system. Stephanie Cutter says “loyalty is a two way street”. John Edwards- a short lived 2008 presidential candidate- treated his aides poorly, and consequently, they endangered his chances of winning, forcing him to drop out of the race. But more than political assistants losing dignity, media outlets are pushing and squeezing more and more information that should remain discrete.

Former North Carolina Senator Bob Kerrey says that loyalty in private meetings is being violated, and people are sometimes afraid to say things and write things for fear that it can be held against them later. The Founding Fathers instilled a concept that within the walls of the senate room, you can’t be incriminated or held responsible for anything you say. This is because they felt if people would hold back, than nothing would be accomplished. Politicians in electoral races need to have a similar sense of privacy in their own meeting rooms so all things can be discussed. Some things are not meant for the media. Politics is a keystone of the modern society we live in, and if the system is being undermined by a lack of loyalty, it fails to work.

Finally, the last type of is loyalty between friends. This is the most basic, and essential of all loyalties because it bonds us together as a community. If a person could not maintain a give/take relation with others, the entire world would be filled with individuals who needed to accomplish everything on their own. This is an extremely inefficient way of living, and as seen in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations Pip is at his best when he is able to rely on his friends, such as when Pocket offers him a job. Pip had lost his fortune when Magwitch was sentenced to prison and eventually death. Herbert, who had a successful merchanting business, and part of Ms. Havisham’s fortune, loyally offered pip a job to support him. Additionally, Pip fell into depression and illness after the death of Magwitch. He survived on Joe’s coming back to nurse him. Joe remained loyal even though Pip had never bothered to make contact, and had done his best to brush off Joe when he came to visit Pip in London earlier. Joe truly represents a loyal friend, who won’t ever give up on Pip no matter how Pip treats him. When Pip woke up one morning to see Joe had left, he instantly ran back to apologize for his cruelty to Joe, and fix his life. The story of Great expectations can be seen as Pip learning that loyalty leads to happiness, and not ambitious chasing of money. Wealth seems to be able to replace loyalty, but Pip is never truly happy while rich. He is only happy while feeling loyal to Magwitch, a feeling he later transfers to his old friends when he moves back. Pip had been trying to court Estella his whole life through money, as previously stated. He originally thought he was to poor to marry her. As if to teach us a lesson Dickens only lets Pip marry Estella at the end- when he settles down with his old friends and rests his happiness on their now mutual loyalty; not money.

In conclusion, loyalty plays a large part in our society. In sports, fans can stay extremely loyal and remain with teams through years of troubling times and weak teams. In politics, loyalty must be a given or political candidates’ election bids can fall apart, as seen in the case of John Edwards. Finally, Pips story shows that there is no replacement for loyalty that can work in life, such as money. Only loyalty can achieve what loyalty does: selfish motivation can’t compete. In a Loyalty is selfishness, because your helping yourself for the future in ways selfishness can’t. Pips money would have been taken away had he not given it to Pocket. I’m sure Pip wasn’t thinking this would help him later, but the fact is his loyalty to his poverty stricken friend proved helpful.


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