Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"What I'm Thinking About Loyalty"

My very good friend Craig wrote this a bit ago. I don't usually like to quote someone else's work in its entirety, especially without adding anything of value myself. In this case, I'm going to make an exception because I really feel that this should be read:

It's late at night and I'm thinking about the topic of loyalty. It seems like a sense of loyalty has caused people to do a lot of stupid things. People kill other people because they feel a sense of loyalty to their country or their religion. But I know that my country was founded on dissent and citizens' rights (and I don't kid myself that it was founded on hipocracy, too, just ask a slave or a native American). I also know that no major religion (I'm excluding violent doomsday cults) has any core belief which justifies hating someone, or taking their life. Quite the contrary, the admonition "Thou Shalt Not Kill", which by preschool age to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim kids alike, finds expression in most any faith. And yet, ever since Pope Gregory II decided that he couldn't deal with the holy land being overrun by people who consider it holy for slightly different reasons, Christians, Muslims, and Jews have killed eachother over it.

So how is it that things that ought to be good, like faith and patriotism, get turned to these monstrous ends? I think it's because we think that our politicians, our clergy, and sometimes even our friends are some kind of platonic ideal for the virtues that they claim. I'm convinced that they're not. I don't think any human is infailable, no matter what they claim to represent, and good people do bad things all the time. But really, truly awful things happen because people supress their own conscience and do what's expected of them out of a sense of "loyalty". But if we think rationally, and listen to the voice of good within us, I believe we must come to the conclusion that sometimes by being loyal to the president, we may be disloyal to our country, and by being loyal to our clergy, we may be disloyal to God.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should reject anything that comes from an authority figure. What I'm saying is that authority does not confer morality. Therefore, be loyal to your principles, be loyal to love, truth, justice, and peace, and examine your own actions and motivations by your own moral compass. Justifying something by saying "this is for my country", "this is for my people", "this is for my religion", "this is for my family", can sometimes prevent you from asking "Is this right?"


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