Loyalty is a quality that is proferred by one person to another. Loyalty does not concern itself with quality of actions of another, rather, regardless of quality of actions, pledges loyalty to another.
There exist contexts within which loyalty is appropriate. All of said contexts are, however, societal contexts, not personal contexts. In this respect, soldiers are expected to be loyal to their countries. So then, when the President of the United States of America declares war on Iraq, regardless of absence of any coinciding personal views, a professional soldier puts his or her battle gear on, and goes to war. The soldier is not responsible for rightness or wrongness of the decision to go to war, only is responsible for actions undertaken by himself or herself in course of the war. This dichotomy of principle is evident in trials of Germans after World War II, namely, only decision makers, and those soldiers who, on their own personal account went out of the way to commit atrocities were regarded as war criminals.
Another context within which loyalty is appropriate is context of the demand that citizens not commit treason against their own countries. The premise for loyalty is, of course rational, namely, no matter how bad things are, a citizen cannot by selling his or her country out to a foreign entity make things better. If a country is messed up, efforts at fixing it work best only if, simultaneously, they do not compromise Sovereignty of the country. In this respect, note that when Richard the Lionhearted invaded England so as to assume the throne, he was fighting for what rightfully was his, and was aided not by a foreign Sovereignty, but by another entity that recognized him as Regent. Regardless then, of help from another entity, Richard the Lionhearted did not compromise Sovereignty of England, and cannot be deemed to have been guilty of treason.
In matters of welfare of a State, as opposed to welfare of an individual, the demand for loyalty —unwavering allegiance — can be appropriate.
Faithfulness is demonstrated, not in relation to a person, but in relation to a concept, equivalently, a principle. Absent definition of a concept in relation to which a person is faithful, adherence to, or departure from faithfulness is nigh impossible to discern.
In this respect, consider as follows. Suppose two couples, A and B. Couple A agree, at timing of commencement of their marriage, that they commit to a monogamous marital relationship. Conversely, Couple B commit to a non-monogamous marital relationship.
If Couple A break their vows of monogamy, they are unfaithful. If Couple B live up to their commitment, they are faithful to one another. With one couple faithful, and the other unfaithful in context of exactly the same set of actions, it is clear to see that faithfulness is assessed only in relation to some overarching principle.
While one person can promise faithfulness to another, faithfulness can be assessed only in context of the principle that is promised to another.
Faithfulness then is not the same as unwavering loyalty.
In context of interpersonal relationships, we ought never to observe loyalty — unwavering commitment of obedience to another. Rather, we ought only to observe faithfulness — commitment to welfare of another that is bounded by principles, such as principles of morality, ethics, spirituality etc.
Whenever society devolves into loyalties, simultaneously it devolves into factions, that is, group ideology. If group ideologies and factions are to be maintained, merits of alternate ideologies or factions must not even be considered. We arrive then at a segregated society within which people lose capacity for respectful discourse that focuses on facts and evidence, as opposed to ideologies and fictions.
Whenever society begins to burn books — either literally or figuratively — it declares unwillingness to engage with demonstration of philosophical evidence for lack of merit, as such declares arrival at dominance of loyalties and factions.
The United States of America already is a society within which people have, to a large extent, given in to loyalties, as opposed to faithfulness. Just as Democrats and Republicans no longer are able to have meaningful discourse, exactly so the rest of society.
Given faithfulness only can be assessed in context of evidence for either of adherence, or non-adherence to a principle, always, faithfulness has regard for facts and evidence. In this respect, a man who marries in context of Couple A’s commitments cannot arrive at evidence that his wife has been monogamous, yet accuse her of unfaithfulness.
Consider then the following counterfactual, namely, whenever people practice loyalties, at expense of quality of relationship with persons who can be deemed of similar social status, they promise unwavering allegiance to persons already higher up in social strata (not inclusive of birth circumstances) of societal power, wealth, or eminence. If all who are ‘less wealthy’ pledge allegiance to all who already are much wealthier, clearly, relative to the less wealthy, the ‘already wealthy’ grow wealthier at a faster pace, with outcome there is arrival at exacerbation of income inequality. Further, with the less wealthy taking directives from the already wealthy, there is loss of discretion, loss of creativity, and non-arrival at new innovations within populations of the less wealthy, with outcome there is arrival at a society of ‘lords’ and servitudes. For compounding of the whole mess, with the less wealthy owing allegiance to different factions of the already rich, society’s capacity for meaningful social action is, in entirety, compromised.
In presence of a society that functions on faithfulness, persons who are similar in social status (wealth, power, etc., not circumstances of birth) relate to one another in context of exactly the same principles that guide interactions with those who already have attained to a higher social status. In presence of treatment of one another as equals, while the already wealthy still may grow wealthier, they are unable to leave anyone behind — the principles that make them wealthier also increase wealth of everyone else in society. In presence of faithfulness then, there is arrival at a more equitable structure, both of interactions and wealth in society.
It never is wise for a society to trade faithfulness (equality of principles that undergird interactions) for loyalties — inequalities and servitudes.
Whenever a soldier or citizen pledges unwavering allegiance (loyalty) to his or her country, given he or she also is part of the country, there never is any servitude or inequality implied in such allegiance.
In my literary novel, titled, ‘Faithful’, a freshly widowed Queen is faced with the choice between loyalty to memory of her dead husband and king, and faithfulness to the principle, to wit, matters which led to his assassination were outcome of an immoral hubris on his part. Which would Queen Lautide choose, loyalty to her dead husband, or faithfulness to principles of morality, and what exactly will be outcomes of her choice — ultimately, loss of her Queen Regency, her life, and lives of her children, or a winning over of not only her people, but new friends?
For a fun and interesting answer proferred in context of a story that is enjoyable reading, check out my newly released novel titled, ‘Faithful’, available on Amazon Kindle for just $2.99, and in paperback on Amazon.com.