Loyalty is a big deal in the world of Martial Arts. I would imagine most of us would say that loyalty is a big deal period. But what does loyalty actually mean? Is it the same to everyone?
Within the realm of family, loyalty might mean always having your son or daughter’s back, regardless of the mistakes they make. To me, that’s just the unconditional love of being a parent, but some might view that as loyalty.
For a spouse, loyalty might mean unending devotion…and not just the obvious “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, but not telling your friends and family about every little thing your spouse does to annoy you. It might mean presenting a united front to your children, even if you actually disagree on an issue. It might mean distancing yourself from friends and family who don’t like your spouse, because this is your partner for life.
In terms of friendship, loyalty may be sticking by your friend even when they’re making poor choices. It might be choosing a side in a divorce, even though you don’t have to.
If you’re a pet owner, you likely have an explicit understanding of the word. You see it’s definition every time your dog jumps excitedly when you enter your home after being gone all day, or when he follows you from room to room, just because he can’t bear to be away from you. You feel it when your dog senses your sadness and curls himself in the nook behind your knees as you lie in bed sobbing.
While you may not have thought much about loyalty, like so many other things in life, you may not truly appreciate its meaning until you experience its absence. Once you’ve felt the sharp stab of betrayal, it may be all you think about. It could be the student who left your school to open a competing one just down the street, or the spouse who let you down, or the friend who talked about you behind your back. (Betrayal probably won’t come from the dog, because…well…it’s a dog…the epitome of loyalty.)
The reality is, we will all feel the stab of betrayal at some point in our life. There is no way to ensure loyalty. All you can do is set the example. Be the type of person who earns respect. Be honest in all dealings and let integrity always come before ego. And when that stab of betrayal comes, let it sting. Feel that blade in your heart. But do not seek revenge. Remember how it felt. Vow to never impose that feeling on another human. Rise above. Because in the end, the only loyalty that really matters…is the loyalty you maintain with your true self.
By Christie Low