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the loyal scam
loyalty default
by mike julianelle
1.15.07
general


Like Superman fleeing to the Fortress of Solitude after his beat down in Metropolis at the end of Superman II, or Jesus fleeing to the Kingdom of Heaven when he was crucified and couldn't take the heat, another potential savior has abandoned us in our time of need.

Nick Saban, the head coach of my favorite football team, surrendered his integrity to his checkbook and ran from the Miami Dolphins all the way to the F...B...I. I mean, Alabama. I hope that for the rest of his life, he wakes up in the dark and hears the screaming of the dolphins. Or squeaking, as it were.

A lot of time is spent these days holding memorial services for the downfall of various virtues: integrity, compassion, humility, respect, common sense, etc. The list goes on and on. Most of these eulogies are premature; borne of hysteria and puritanism.

Meanwhile, in this age of quickie divorces, french exits, and quick getaways, loyalty is dead as...dead, yet there's not one melancholic bugle note being sounded for it. Even the prudest reactionary doesn't spend much time bemoaning its obsolescence.

Loyalty is a tough thing to define. It is so wrapped up in other qualities (honesty, integrity, strength), it's hard to measure until it's tested, and it exists in many different forms. There's familial loyalty, bred both by blood and through the fidelity of marriage and commitment; devotion to an ideal, whether it be faith in God and religion or dedication to a country or a code; fandom, aka the allegiance to a favorite team or steadfast worship of a particular band or artist or writer; even blind, inexplicable loyalty, like that of a dog to its master, or the Detroit Lions to Matt Millen.

There are people who demonstrate loyalty by contributing money to their alma mater, by travelling across the country to cheer on their favorite team, by devoting their lives to following their favorite band on tour. This type of loyalty, though the most common and easily demonstrated, still expects some reciprication, a return on the investment. A decent movie, the occasional championship, an encore that features a favorite song. And it is much more temporal, much less likely to be tested, and much less strong when it is.

But there are other, less prosaic forms of loyalty that demand stronger bonds, more sacrifice, true investment, true selflessness. Familial loyalty is the most arbitrary but the most demanding. As the sayings go, you can't choose your family, but when it comes down to it, blood is thicker than water. No betrayal is more vilified than a familial breach ("I know it was you...you broke my heart."). It's tough to escape your obligations to your family.

Love demands a special kind of loyalty - at least, it certainly expects it, thus the pain when it isn't there - a vow takes the place of blood, and that makes the bond both more tenuous and more difficult to maintain. As the saying goes, "Every marriage is vulnerable otherwise being married wouldn't mean anything, would it?" It doesn't seem to me that the vows of marriage mean that much to anyone these days.

While everyone rails against violence and swearing and sex in the media, against dishonesty and opportunism and hate-mongering in politics, no one seems to give much of a damn for sticking by someone when times get tough (one notable example: Seinfeld stumping for Michael Richards), for staying true to a promise through thick and thin, for honoring a contract and seeing something through.
Desire for the quick fix, the easy way out, the loophole, is rampant these days. You can be pretty certain that most people pretending to be loyal are really just hoping to be let off the hook. Even the Dolphins' owner let it happen: "Hey Saban, if your heart's not in it, I'm not gonna hold you to it." Screw that. Tighten the noose. You reap what you sow, Coach. Shouldn't have signed the contract if you didn't intend to honor it.

We are breeding, or more realistically, perpetuating, a world of self-interest, where any oath is broken when it gets inconvenient, any contract is dissolved in the blink of an eye. More than ever, word isn't bond.

But I guess that's to be expected. And nobody condemns lack of loyalty because they know they'll probably need to weasel out of something someday too. It's the circle of life.


ABOUT MIKE JULIANELLE

Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle

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COMMENTS

sandra thompson
1.17.07 @ 9:29a

I hate it, but I think you're right.

nulliparous johnston
2.8.07 @ 1:52p

Your name is Michael. Are you any relation to Michael Anderson, director of the award winning feature film Millenium?



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