on Loyalty

“You never, never leave your wingman. Maverick… It’s not your flying, it’s your attitude. The enemy’s dangerous, but right now you’re worse. Dangerous and foolish. You may not like who’s flying with you, but whose side are you on?” from the movie Top Gun (1986), where the character Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, is admonished by his instructor for breaking one of the first rules of aerial combat

A few weeks ago, President Obama honored Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta with the Medal of Honor, the first living soldier to receive one since Vietnam. He received this due to actions he took during battle in Afghanistan, where he braved enemy fire to save a fellow soldier and the rest of his unit after being ambushed by the Taliban. He himself was shot twice while doing so.

Loyalty can be a difficult thing. It often calls us to act in a way that may go against what want to do, or what may be best for us individually. Often we are called to join others in something where a good outcome for us personally is not guaranteed, yet a good outcome for all must still be assured. That is the interesting thing about loyalty – it is not just a feeling, it is also a choice. Sometimes loyalty requires that you enter into the fray of battle, taking on enemy fire yourself, when you could easily just flee to safety. Seeking for safety is instinctual; being loyal takes guts.

Who or what are you loyal to? Is your loyalty dependent on feelings or do they rest on something more permanent? Will you still stand when your loyalty is tested in battle, or will you run after the first shots are fired? Is your loyalty temporary or timeless? Fair-weather or firm?

A person’s character is often first tested by the strengths of their loyalties. Sometimes being loyal requires you to be uncomfortable, to be hurt, or to be ridiculed. Other times it merely requires you to choose whether or not to compromise, and often this is the very arrow under which most of us fall. Very few rise up to the true test of loyalty: that of self sacrifice. But only through the sacrifice of self will we be able to leave a legacy for others. What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

The enemies we face in our daily lives will not be anything like our soldiers face in Iraq or Afghanistan, where loyalties to comrades can lead to death. Those we face here are less obvious, yet can be just as destructive, so we must choose who or what we are going to be loyal to and then stand firm, being prepared to enter the battle and fight for that which we hold dear. Loyalty always requires sacrifice, and usually the sacrifice is personal.

Who or what are you in battle for today? Is it worth the fight even if you do not personally see the victory?

If so, then figure out what you are truly fighting for.

Decide whose side you are on.

And then never, ever leave your wingman.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” The Bible, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 

“Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life” Napoleon Hill (1883-1970),  American author and one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature.

“Loyalty is a feature in a boy’s character that inspires boundless hope.” Sir Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941) British Army officer and founder of the Boy Scouts

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