9.02.2007

Loyal to Who

Last month, I parlayed some airline miles of Jada's from when we had
all flown earlier in the year into a free subscription to The
Economist, my favorite magazine but one whose subscription rate
usually scares me off from being a regular. I wasn't expecting my
first issue until a month or two, so I was pleasantly surprised when I
checked the mail the other day to find it waiting for me.

One of the things I appreciate about the magazine is its coverage of
US affairs from a non-US perspective. I'm only a third of the way
through the issue, but I thought I'd chime in on this article about
Albert Gonzales' recent resignation:
http://economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9724308.

The
Economist called it just like I suspected all along: the guy was not
up for the task, and was too much about loyalty to W than to the role
itself.

Loyalty is a funny thing. Most of us aspire to it, and want those
whom we work with to aspire to it, too. But it is important to ask
the question, "Loyal to who?" After all, being a yes-man to the
administration when your job is to be a check on the administration
may count as loyalty, but it certainly does not count as competency.
Better to be loyal to the position, to justice, to America.

It ought to be the same way in our friendships, as I have noted in
this space before. We may need our friends to tell us we're OK
because it's important to hear that, but we also need them to tell us
when we're not OK; because if they don't, who will?

Perhaps I shouldn't ask, "Loyal to who?" For calling someone else out
- whether a dear friend or a boss - isn't an act of disloyalty, or
even just a matter of being loyal to something greater than that
person. It is the very pinnacle of loyalty to that person: being
willing to say an unpopular, counter thing to that person because you
have that person's real, long-term interests in mind. Now that's true
loyalty.

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