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Saturday, April 08, 2006


What is exactly loyalty?
Does it mean automatic obedience?
Does it mean absolute trust?

I guess the right question that would help defining loyalty is what should a man be loyal to? Should a man be loyal to an idea or to a person?
Loyalty should never be to a person, it should always be to a concept or an idea, and then would automatically extend to anybody who is believed to work for the best interest of that concept or idea.
Loyalty to a concept protects that concept from manipulation or abuse by whomever implementing that idea.
That means that being loyal to someone you think he works for a believed concepts does not mean that you automatically follow him in all times, in fact it means that we have to criticize that person when we think that he does not work for the concept.
Loyalty is self-driven motive or moral, it is directed by our beliefs so; it cannot be challenged by a claim of sincerity or honesty from anybody else towards the concept.
From this we may conclude that loyalty does not mean always obedience, though loyalty means honesty in the interim.

During the last half century, the political and administrative environment in Egypt was totally saturated by the concept that was brought about by 1952 revolution - let us call it a revolution temporarily - the concept is that loyalty precedes competence. This was associated with the common false perception of loyalty as obedience and absolute blind trust.
That concept in itself is a very destroying concept because, why should there be a conflict or a choice between loyalty and competence? And when combined with the -intentionally- faulty interpretation of loyalty it resulted in the introduction of very low quality persons to positions they should never have been to, on the basis of their loyalty which was in reality an opportunistic hunger and greed.

The interesting question that I do not have an answer to is that “Is loyalty always necessary?”
I tend to believe that when it comes to decision making, or to long term planning, loyalty is a must, loyalty in this interim would be equal to “patriotism”, however loyalty in itself is not good enough to take the right decision, and it has to be combined with all the needed skills, knowledge and intelligence. When it comes to implementing the decision, a guess loyalty itself is not a necessity; however implementation should be monitored and inspected for protection against intentional and un-intentional mis-implementation.

Finally, are there a set group of concepts that we should be loyal to automatically or is it a personal choice?
In the ideal situation, it should be a personal choice, but in reality, people learn what they should be loyal to from the surrounding norms.
Those surrounding norms shape and define unconsciously a person’s identity which leads to the beliefs and concepts that a person decides to be loyal to.
That brings in light the concept of “Identity” which in fact is the mean focus of my current readings.
Identity, its definition, its development and its effect on the personal choices will be the topic of later posts……….

1 comment:

Lago Di Como said...

First, I agree with you that loyalty should never be interpreted as obedience.

Second, I guess we should differentiate between loyalty on the pure human level and loyalty on the political level.

What I personally think is that on the first level loyalty & sincerity are very related and are very important in human relationships.

However, on the second level it is very hard for normal humans to maintain loyalty to ideas & concepts without putting the figures who actually work for the best interest of those concepts (or pretend to) in a very high rank to a degree which makes the actions of those persons unquestionable. In other words, human nature tends to misinterpret loyalty & obedience.

Besides loyalty is a very broad & relative concept, i.e. being loyal to a political idea does not necessarily mean the best interest of the nation and in more severe cases could mean treason to that nation.