Virtue of the Week: Loyalty


The Death of LoyaltySeveral large American companies, including a few dot-com giants, have each laid off thousands of people in this past year, people who were over qualified for the job became disposable. Some of these people worked extremely hard for their employer, so hard that they made sacrifices that employees with less tenure will never understand. And now the jobless find themselves asking, “Whatever happened to loyalty?”

Loyalty. It was once something we could count on. But loyalty has gradually given way to self-interest. It seems that people care only about themselves, their own children, and their retirement, and will do anything to protect their own career paths, even at the cost of hurting the most loyal employees.

If loyalty were alive, you’d soon find it beneath a tombstone in a graveyard, buried right next to other important lost virtues. And people would walk by and say, “It seemed so beautiful. Too bad it’s dead.”

Yes, loyalty is indeed an endangered concept. Everywhere you look, it seems to be dying. People aren’t even loyal to their spouses anymore. Remember when the phrase “Till death do us part” meant something? Take a peek at the current divorce rate in America.

Our loyalty to friends isn’t much better better. Some friendships do last a lifetime, but most last only until one or the others’ money runs out. How many of us are guilty of gossiping about our friends. “Did you hear what happened to Janet? She accidentally fed her husband dog food. He was really upset at her and said, ‘How come you don’t cook this good all the time?'” And what happens when a friend is moving and needs help lifting furniture? Do we volunteer? No way. We wait until the friend asks, then say, “What date are you moving? The 25th? Oh, that’s too bad, I have an appointment. It’s been on my calendar for over a year.”

And what about loyalty to employees? Today, you’re the pride of the company, getting pats on the back, employee appreciation gifts in your mailbox, and people telling you just how much your work is appreciated. Tomorrow, you’re just a number, one of 5,000 people being shown the door. “Don’t feel bad,” the human resources director says. “At least you’ve earned a lot of respect from others, everyone will want to hire you, it’s just that WE don’t have a job for you.

What kind of message do you think that sends to the rest of the employees in the company? What does disloyalty to the most talented and dedicated employees do to company morale? I think Christopher Dawson said it best.

“Every society rests in the last resort on the recognition of common principles and common ideals, and if it makes no moral or spiritual appeal to the loyalty of its members, it must inevitably fall to pieces.”

We are falling to pieces.


An Old Man and His DogAn old man and his dog were walking along a country road, enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to the man that he had died. He remembered dying, and realized, too, that the dog had been dead for many years. He wondered where the road would lead them, and continued onward. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall, white arch that gleamed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He was pleased that he had finally arrived at heaven, and the man and his dog walked toward the gate. As he got closer, he saw someone sitting at a beautifully carved desk off to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, but is this heaven?”

“Yes, it is, sir,” the man answered.
“Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked.
“Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.” The gatekeeper gestured to his rear, and the huge gate began to open.

“I assume my friend can come in…” the man said, gesturing toward his dog.

But the reply was, “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.”

The man thought about it, then thanked the gatekeeper, turned back toward the road, and continued in the direction he had been going. After another long walk, he reached the top of another long hill, and he came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate. There was no fence, and it looked as if the gate had never been closed, as grass had grown up around it. As he approached the gate, he saw a man just inside, sitting in the shade of a tree in a rickety old chair, reading a book. “Excuse me!” he called to the reader. “Do you have any water?”

“Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there,” the man said, pointing to a place that couldn’t be seen from outside the gate. “Come on in and make yourself at home.”

“How about my friend here?” the traveler gestured to the dog.

“He’s welcome too, and there’s a bowl by the pump,” he said. They walked through the gate and, sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a dipper hanging on it and a bowl next to it on the ground. The man filled the bowl for his dog, and then took a long drink himself.

When both were satisfied, he and the dog walked back toward the man, who was sitting under the tree waiting for them, and asked, “What do you call this place?” the traveler asked.

“This is heaven,” was the answer.

“Well, that’s confusing,” the traveler said. “It certainly doesn’t look like heaven, and there’s another man down the road who said that place was heaven.”

“Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates?

“Yes, it was beautiful.”

“Nope. That’s hell.”

“Doesn’t it offend you for them to use the name of heaven like that?”

“No. I can see how you might think so, but it actually saves us a lot of time. They screen out the people who are willing to leave their best friends behind.”