Texas Liberal

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Who Merits Loyalty?

Loyalty is an important quality.

What are possible grounds for loyalty? Who merits loyalty and for what reasons?

I see loyalty as coming from shared experiences, shared viewpoints, reciprocity, and gut instinct.

Here are possible grounds for loyalty—

1. A Shared Past— I give some stock to people who were in the same places I was at certain points in life. For example, people who hung out in punk rock clubs and bars I frequented in my college years get credit.

I feel these are people who felt many of the same things I did at that age, and may now be people I can trust as an adult.  Also, more personally, I want my past to matter—or to at least be recalled.

Here is a line of John Kennedy’s Inaugural address that expresses this feeling—

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share: we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends.

2. A Shared Present—People we work with or live near may have a shared set of experiences or circumstances that are a basis for loyalty.

This doesn’t always work out, and loyalty here may be limited to the shared circumstances, but it is good to enter relationships with co-workers and neighbors with the hope that trust can be established.

Also, proximity can require that we look past any negative traits and focus on what’s best in a person. Here is an example of this feeling from The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas

But, never mind, he is a neighbor who has done us a service on a time, so he’s welcome.

3. Gut Instinct Guided By Experience —Sometimes you have just have a feeling someone is on your side—A gut feeling guided by experience. When I have such a feeling, I go with it until I have reason not to.

Here is a sentence from a Jack London book called Before Adam that expresses this idea—

We felt the prod of gregarious instinct, the drawing together as though for united action, the impulse toward cooperation.

4. Someone Who Has Done Something For You—What I mean here is more than just “one hand washing the other.” I mean that if someone has done you a good turn for the right reasons, you should remember the favor and return it out of fairness and as a way of deepening a relationship.

The way we return a good deed may be no more than a sincere thank you.

Here is an example from an article by a Kelly White in the magazine Girl’s Life

Before long, your sister will follow your good example, and you’ll both be masters at the art of sisterly give-and-take.

5.  Shared viewpoints–Relationships have a larger context than simp,y interactions of the people in the relationship. Someone who sees the world as you do, may share values that are as important to you as are merely personal concerns.

A relationship can have a context as large as the people in the relationship decide it may have.

Here is an example of this from Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

I was queer company enough– quite as queer as the company I received; but as I trace over what we went through I see how much common ground we must have found in the one idea that, by good fortune, COULD steady us.

There are other grounds for loyalty that you may observe and follow based on your own experiences.

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

A Promise I’ll Keep—I’ll Never Cheat On My Wife

Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada has announced that he cheated on his wife with a campaign staffer.

Senator Ensign is a member of the so-called Promise Keepers.

Here are the seven promises that Promise Keepers promise. 

Here is promise # 3 of the Promise Keepers—

A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.

Here is promise #4—

A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.  

I’ve not reflectively dismissive of people who join this group. Life is hard and people need help getting by and doing what they feel is right. I really have no problem with the first six of the seven promises that are listed. If someone is serious about staying loyal to his spouse, more power to him.

Promise number 7 though is about trying to convert people. I have some problem with that in some contexts.

That said, what were the odds that Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada was keeping up with any standard of morality from either the right or the left?  If the Promise Keepers had been smart they would have long ago kicked him out as a preventive move.

Just look at the picture up above. Senator Ensign is like a successful Willy Loman. Somebody who merits none of the sympathy you would offer a guy simply trying to get by in life. 

(Below–Brian Dennehy playing Willy Loman in an adaptation of Death of a Salesman.)

Brian Dennehy, as Willy Loman, lectures Biff, played by Douglas Henshall

I’ll tell you, the blog reading public, one promise I’m certain to keep—This liberal will never cheat on his wife. My wife is the best person ever. 

It’s wrong to cheat on your spouse. It is likely that your spouse cares about you and will be hurt by your actions. Be loyal to the people who are  loyal to you.

Here is a picture of my wife on our wedding day.

(Update 6/25–I don’t believe that Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is a member of the Promise Keepers. I do however know that Governor Sanford also cheats on his wife.)

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Merits Loyalty?

( Blogger’s Note—As part of my Summer Solstice blogging break, I’m re-running a few posts. I’ll be back to normal posting in a few days.)  

This post is part of an occasional Texas Liberal series called Central Questions.  

Loyalty is an important quality. 

What are possible grounds for loyalty? Who merits loyalty and for what reasons?

I see loyalty as coming from personal circumstance, from experience, and, also, from a broader context of shared values.

Loyalty also requires acceptance of people’s faults as you may see them. This because, if for no other reason, so that others will accept you and your faults.  

Here are possible grounds for loyalty—

1. A Shared Past— I give some stock to people who were in the same places I was at certain points in life. For example, people who hung out in punk rock clubs and bars I frequented in college get credit.

I feel these are people who felt many of the same things I did at that age, and may now be people I can trust as an adult.  Also, more personally, I want my past to matter—or to at least be recalled.     

Here is a line of John Kennedy’s Inaugural address that expresses this feeling—

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share: we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends.

 2. A Shared Present—People we work with or live near may have a shared set of experiences or circumstances that are a basis for loyalty.

This doesn’t always work out, and loyalty here may be limited to the shared circumstances, but it is good to enter relationships with co-workers and neighbors with the hope that trust can be established.

Also, proximity can require that we look past any negative traits and focus on what’s best in a person. Here is an example of this feeling from The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas

But, never mind, he is a neighbor who has done us a service on a time, so he’s welcome.

3. Gut Instinct Guided By Experience —Sometimes you have just have a feeling someone is on your side—A gut feeling guided by experience. When I have such a feeling, I go with it until I have reason not to.    

Here is a sentence from a Jack London book called Before Adam that expresses this idea—

We felt the prod of gregarious instinct, the drawing together as though for united action, the impulse toward cooperation.  

4. Someone Who Has Done Something For You—What I mean is more than “one hand washing the other.” I mean that if someone has done you a good turn for the right reasons, you should remember the favor and return it out of fairness and as a way of deepening a relationship.

The way we return a good deed may be no more than a sincere thank you.

Here is an example from an article by a Kelly White in the magazine Girl’s Life—   

Before long, your sister will follow your good example, and you’ll both be masters at the art of sisterly give-and-take.

5.  Shared viewpoints—Relationships have a larger context than the interactions of the people in the relationship. Someone who sees the world as you do, may share values that are as important to you as are simply personal concerns.  

A relationship can have a context as large as the people in the relationship decide it can have. 

Here is an example of this from Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

I was queer company enough– quite as queer as the company I received; but as I trace over what we went through I see how much common ground we must have found in the one idea that, by good fortune, COULD steady us. 

There are other grounds for loyalty that you may observe and follow based on your own experiences.

June 28, 2008 Posted by | Books, Relationships | , , , | 5 Comments

Why I Liked Senator Obama’s Speech On Race

Here are the reasons I liked Senator Barack Obama’s recent speech on race—

1. By correctly refusing to disown Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Mr. Obama showed loyalty.  

2. By speaking at length about the good points and bad points of the black church, Mr. Obama acknowledged the basic humanity and complexity of the average person.

3. By addressing the historical experience of both blacks and whites in the United States, Senator Obama asked us to consider context. This is something increasingly rare in our fragmented quick-paced society. Yet context is a starting point of seeing the lives of others in a humane and caring way.

4. By speaking in a reasonably forthright manner about a difficult subject, Mr. Obama respected the intelligence of the average voter.    

5. By offering the opportunity to move past divisive racial concerns in the 2008 Election, Senator Obama offered voters a positive choice.   

Here is a good USA Today story on the speech.—(No, you don’t need to read the 11,821 comments so far made about the story.) 

Here is the complete transcript of the speech.

Here is the Obama campaign web page.  

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Tipped The Kid Who Handed Me A Burrito $5 Because I Felt He Shared My Outlook And Might, With Time, Share My Values

 

A few days ago I ordered a burrito from the drive-up window of a Mexican take-out place here in Houston.

I drove up to the window after I made my order and the person working was a kid of maybe 17.

I assessed him based on my own experiences and outlook.

I felt this young person was someone who might have a creative temperament and nature. Also, he seemed kind.

This view was based on the entirety of his appearance and the way he spoke and carried himself.

I have a sympathy for the creative temperament and I took a liking to this person.

I felt he did not have the libertarian streak often found in younger creative-minded people. I felt he was someone who would pay his taxes.

It takes confidence and quality to have both a distinct personality and to have the willingness to accept that you are one person in a society of many.  

I asked the young man where he went to school. He said he was a high school junior.

I asked him what he hoped to study in life. He said he might wish to study art.

I said I ‘d  already thought that might be the case. He asked me why I’d reached that conclusion.

I tried to explain in the limited time before the next car drove up to order a burrito or a taco.

I said, in essence, it was the whole of his appearance and the way he spoke.

When I mentioned the part about how he talked, he said, without (much) defensiveness, that he was learning English.

I did not have time to say I was not referring to his accent and that I did not care what language he spoke.

The best short reply on my part would have been that he spoke with gentleness and with the suggestion of intellectual substance.   

I gave the kid a $5 tip for handing me the burrito and said maybe it would help him buy an art book.

The young man seemed to go with both the conversation and the tip.

I did not tip him $5 because I’m a great person.

I did it because we must have loyalty not just to our friends and family, but also to those who share our general perspective and outlook and who, in the case of a younger person, might come to share our political and societal values.  

This kid seemed to be on the right side of the aisle. It’s often a hostile world and we all need the support of kindred souls.      

The painting above is a self-portrait of the 17th-century artist Artemisia Gentileschi.  

November 28, 2007 Posted by | Art, Houston, Relationships | , , , , , , | 3 Comments