“Aren’t you upset?” they said “Don’t you expect your friend to take your side?”
I shook my head no. “No, not automatically. Not if they don’t agree with me or what I’m doing.”
Blind Loyalty and Self-Satisfaction
I think a lot about loyalty. It’s often put forth as a virtue, right up there with honesty.
A good person is honest. They speak the truth. And they are loyal, committed to those close to them.
These ideas were basically drilled into my head when I was a young person, reinforced by teachings at church.
Being a loyal follower whose words and intentions were as clear as well-tempered glass was something to aspire to, to strive towards.
This was what “good” looked like in human form.
It sounded so good in theory. And yet… when I began to actually explore the world and come to know people in it, I found that loyalty caused a lot of problems. Particularly the blind kind. The kind that closed its eyes and jumped after whatever person their loyalty had imprinted on.
A person didn’t have to have ill intent to perform destructive actions. They could also get there by committing to someone who would go on to be destructive and devotedly following them even past the point that they turned.
All the while, the loyal person would often not realize that they were part of something destructive. They were instead filled with a sense of well-being. They were comforted by the sense that they were good, because they were sticking with their friend or lover.
A sense of self-satisfaction that they were a good person, a loyal person, would crowd out any natural doubts they should be having.
There Are Multiple Ways of Being a “Good” Friend
“But… A good friend would always take your side,” they said.
“I think there are many ways that a friend can be good,” I answered. “I don’t want people close to me that always take my side, just because they like me. Do I find that my friends and I usually agree on things? Sure. But that’s because we have a lot of shared values and tend to view issues similarly. We’re different people, so eventually we’ll probably disagree on something. And if I’m really out of line, they’re doing me a huge favor by telling me that I am, so that I can correct course.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said. “I’m like anyone else. I love it when others support me, when I have friends in my corner. But I want honest support, not blind loyalty. If blind loyalty is the only kind available, I’d rather go it alone.”
“Or reevaluate your position.”