In spite of the fact that the quality of loyalty is highly respected and held in great esteem by practically all individuals regardless of their general character, it is a much misused word, and in many cases is a cover for selfish inclinations of the individual. Specifically, loyalty in its generally accepted meaning, means to be true, and this carries with it the obligation of being just and right. Loyalty can mistakenly be given to principles and activities that are incorrect or wrong from the standpoint of ethics and morals, but never with the knowledge of the individual that these things are true in regard to such principles and activities. In other words adherence to wrong principles of thought, speech and action is not loyalty in any sense of the word, but is inspired by selfish and unworthy motives. This can be generally understood by the average thinking man or woman, but when we come to the field of personal loyalty a great many otherwise intelligent individuals become confused and uncertain.
The criminal element feels that loyalty demands obstruction of justice, even to the extent of committing other and greater crimes in protecting those who deserve punishment. Going to the other extreme we find that many high-minded individuals believe that loyalty to their convictions in regard to right principles should impel them to refrain from defense of their own country in case of war. The answer to this problem, given by Christ Himself, in reply to questions which were propounded in order that He might be accused of disloyalty to the government, was very simple, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
The loyal citizen must have a greater loyalty to his country and to its laws than he has to any individual, or group, and his first loyalty must be to his God and Country. Loyalty to God cannot interfere with loyalty to your own country. It does not interfere with loyalty to its rulers except where it is ruled by tyrants who usurp the prerogatives of God Himself. Those who crush the liberties of the people are never entitled to loyalty and it should not be given to them. The so-called “Pacifist” who does not believe in what he calls legalized murder or war, has a perfect right to his convictions, but he cannot hide behind the skirts of these convictions to avoid defending his country when necessity arises. It is quite true that war is objectionable in its every feature and horrible in many of them, but it is impossible to protect the world, and especially our loved ones, against criminality and brute force except by opposition with a greater force and power. The individual who will not fight in defense of his loved ones and of his own country, maintains this attitude in practically all cases because he is not personally endangered (and as an added incentive he doesn’t desire to be), yet it is only the men who fight that make it safe for those who stay at home. All of the sophistry used as arguments against war are of but little avail so long as there are powerful nations who desire to subjugate or conquer other nations. It is the duty of all right-minded individuals to do all in their power to bring about and make permanent a friendly spirit between the nations of the world, but it is unsafe and idiotic for any nation to practice the policy of nonresistance. Does anyone really believe that the boys who fought in the trenches in the world war believed in the policy of killing each other, or that they were any less high-minded than those who claimed exemption or secured it by some underhand method? Practically no one engaged in the war believed in this policy of killing, it was only that each soldier or sailor felt that he was fighting in defense of his own country, that made it possible for the war to continue. Loyalty to God requires the protection of loved ones, who are defenseless and helpless, and not their enemies. The only way that war will ever be stopped is by loyalty given to the word of honor of each and every nation. So long as nations are willing to break their agreements, war cannot possibly be stopped. True loyalty, therefore, to principles, with a common and mutual interest and benefit to all nations, is the only effective means of preventing conflict.
Loyalty to individuals must first be given from the standpoint of the best interest of the individual. This means that, if the individual should be punished, your loyalty to the individual requires that this punishment should be meted out and that you do nothing to obstruct such punishment. On the other hand if the individual is innocent and should not be punished, then you should move heaven and earth if necessary to avoid such punishment, doing everything that is honorable and legal to attain that end. It is not loyalty but selfishness that prompts individuals to side with those that they know to be in the wrong, and this personal prejudice and selfish attitude should never be dignified by the name of loyalty. Unfounded charges, slander, gossip and malicious innuendoes, are never sufficient reason for withdrawal of loyalty. The true facts should be ascertained, and these facts should determine whether our loyalty is justified or otherwise. These facts should be ascertained, however, in a manner that will not humiliate, hurt, or embarrass the individual accused, in the event that he is innocent of the charges. He should always be presumed innocent until the facts themselves prove him guilty. Another very important feature of judgment in such cases has to do with the manner in which charges are presented. Many individuals have been condemned for doing things that were perfectly legal and honorable and that should not have even been criticized, the charges being presented in such manner as to imply that these acts were dishonorable or illegal. It is the duty of each individual not only to determine whether the acts themselves are dishonorable or illegal, but also whether they are sufficient cause for withdrawing his loyalty. The attitude of the man committing such acts must largely determine the final judgment. Mistakes are frequently made on questions of honor or legality, but it is the intent and purpose behind the act that should be most carefully considered. It is regrettably true that disloyalty to those to whom we were previously loyal has been caused far more by unproved falsehoods and slander, than by any actual act or deed of the individual concerned.
We have a loyalty to God, to our Country, to our loved ones and to principles, but we also have a loyalty to our business associates, our employers and our employees. An employer should take a personal interest in providing steady, continuous and profitable employment, and the employee should take a personal interest in doing everything in his power to bring about profits and progress for the institution that pays him his salary or wage. The fact that other individuals are disloyal can never be used as a means of covering up or mitigating our own disloyalty. If a man forsakes loyalty to his Creator he should openly proclaim the fact, so that everyone can classify him where he belongs. If he is willing to be disloyal to his Country, then he should remove himself to some other country to which he feels he could give his loyalty. If an employer is not really loyal to the welfare of his men, he should be prevented from holding down his high position, regardless of his financial interest, and another should be substituted in his place to actually handle the men under his jurisdiction. If an employee feels that he cannot give his loyalty to his employer’s interests, he should at once remove himself from his affiliation and not become a traitor to his own sense of honor. If a man feels that he should forsake his loyalty to anyone he has previously loved, to a previous friend, to certain leaders, or to a group or institution, he should make perfectly clear that he is abandoning his loyalty because of proven facts that justify such action, or he should classify himself as one who abandons loyalty on hearsay evidence, or on suspicion, and thereby make known to everyone that his loyalty is of no importance to anyone, for the simple reason that in such a man loyalty does not really exist.
Loyalty to principles requires steady and persistent application. If a man is really honest with himself, high principles do not conflict with each other, but on the contrary re-enforce each other. If a man has high principles and he steadily adheres to them as a guide, he can safely be trusted to give his loyalty where it belongs and in the way that it should be given. Those who become confused inevitably do because of personal desire, personal profit, prejudice, or ignorance. Those who follow the guidance of high principles can really never be uncertain about their duty in regard to loyalty.
H. B. MONJAR – July, 1934