A World With Distorted Views on Loyalty

ON A warm Friday evening in Tel Aviv, Israel, a young man joined a group of youths waiting outside a nightclub. Moments later a devastating blast ripped through the crowd.

Another suicide bomber had given his life and had violently taken the lives of 19 other youths. “Body parts everywhere, all of them youths, so young​—the most horrendous scene I’ve ever seen,” a medic later told reporters.

“It’s qualities that everyone admires, like loyalty . . . , that can make wars both more likely to start and more difficult to end,” wrote Thurstan Brewin in The Lancet. Yes, from the Crusades of Christendom to the pogroms of Nazi Germany, human history is bloodied by carnage committed in the name of loyalty.

Mounting Casualties of Disloyalty

Undeniably, fanatic loyalty can be destructive, but a lack of loyalty can also tear society apart. To be loyal, states Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary, means to be ‘faithful to a person or cause’ and “implies personal steadfast adherence in the face of any temptation to desert or betray.” While most people say that they admire this kind of loyalty, society is suffering from an immense lack of loyalty at the most fundamental level​—within the family circle. The divorce rate has skyrocketed, fueled by the emphasis on personal fulfillment, the stresses and strains of daily life, and the effects of rampant sexual infidelity. And like the casualties of the bombing in Tel Aviv, youths are often the innocent victims.

“A child’s education is often one of the casualties of family instability arising from divorce, separation, and sole parenthood,” states one report. Boys in single-mother families seem to be especially at risk of educational disadvantage, suicide, and juvenile crime. Each year, one million children in the United States experience the divorce of their parents, and in any given year, half of all children born to married parents in that country will likely be victims of divorce by the time such children are 18 years old. Statistics show that the outlook is similarly heartbreaking for many youths in other parts of the world.

 Loyalty​—Too Noble a Standard?

The current breakdown in traditional loyalties makes the words of King David seem more appropriate than ever: “Do save me, O Jehovah, for the loyal one has come to an end; for faithful people have vanished from the sons of men.” (Psalm 12:1) Why this widespread lack of loyalty? Roger Rosenblatt, writing in Time magazine, comments: “As noble a standard as loyalty sets, there is simply too much fear, self-doubt, opportunism and ambition in our makeup to expect our frail species to adhere to it.” Describing the time in which we live, the Bible frankly states: “Men will be lovers of themselves, . . . disloyal, having no natural affection.”​—2 Timothy 3:1-5.

Given the powerful influence that loyalty​—or the lack of it—​has on a person’s thinking and actions, we might ask, ‘Who rightly deserves our loyalty?’ Note what the following article has to say about this question.

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Photo above: © AFP/CORBIS