Saturday, August 04, 2007

Loyalty or Honesty?

Which is the greater trait? Loyalty or honesty?

It doesn't take most people too long to realise you can be loyal without being honest. Yet history is rife with examples of people who were loyal when, honestly, they knew better. The most sensational example of this is, of course, the Nazi's, but the concept hits a little closer to home than that.


Loyalty will always be valued over honesty by those in a position of authority (be it political, religious, secular businesses or social groups) simply because no one wants to be told they're wrong. We instinctively and inherently resent honest notions that force us to justify ourselves. And so, our natural sense of values are topsy-turvy. Someone that's loyal is seen as more valuable, more of a team player, more of an asset. While someone that's honest is difficult, a trouble-maker.

Reality, of course, is just the opposite. The seemingly loyal devotee isn't at all loyal. They're dishonest. While the honest devotee is loyal to principle before position.

If you find yourself in a position where you are challenged to be either loyal or honest, choose the tougher road less travelled and be honest...

6 comments:

Onyx Stone said...

Pooh, this is a great post for its concise and cutting insight. I never saw this so clearly as in your second paragraph.

...except for the - almost trite - closing admonition. (Sorry for the honesty.)

Is honesty always preferable? What about:

Does my bum look big in this?
Loyal: You look beautiful.
Honest: Yes.

My football (soccer) team is 2 - 0 down and getting hammered...
Loyal: Come on boys, we can do this...
Honest: We're gonna be slaughtered.

Being part of an imperfect team has value. Loyalty can help us look past imperfections and be supportive. If we need to be honest about every situation, we become impossible to live with. Think of the comedy film Liar Liar.

Also, a person needs to consider the consequences of honestly speaking up. Check any documentary about a corporate whistle-blower, and see the price they paid. I think of the film The Insider. We have to pick our fights. We can be more effective if we know what will rock the boat, and decide when to (or when not to) take that issue on.

I think there is a time for all things, a time to speak, and a time to refrain from speaking.

Onyx Stone said...

I suppose that ultimately, the reflective person will decide what are the principles that define him. We decide what matters - what is more important than any other loyalty.

On these matters, we may commit to being true to ourselves - damn the consequences.

But if anyone out there has arrived at a set of principles that they didn't need to re-visit and re-examine with almost every practical new ethical challenge, then I'd be most impressed.

Pooh's Corner said...

I hear what you're saying about wisdom... I just wonder where ends and hypocrisy begins...

Graf von Straf Hindenburg said...

Never a truer word was spoken.

Zaidi said...

Being Loyal is quite a difficult than being Honest ...

Purchase Viagra said...

I prefer the honesty. I think the quality of being honest is the hardest part of this life, I've been reading a lot of books and I can't find this answer yet.