emma peel

emma peel
La dolce vita, Canada
December 10
Citizen of the world
Inside my head
A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem. Disclaimer Please be advised that what you read here does not represent anyone at OS, or anyone else in the known blogosphere, or world outside the Internet unless specifically stated. I've spent most of my life as a journalist, arts and film critic, editor, educator and writing coach. I've been lucky enough to travel extensively and to meet many fascinating famous and ordinary people. I live in a beautiful part of the world that sustains my soul. I am blessed to have an understanding husband and loyal friends. I have a sharp edge, but underneath I am an idealist and a romantic. My heart breaks at all the stupidity, injustice and cruelty in the world. I will never stop fighting against it.


Emma peel's Links

FEBRUARY 9, 2011 5:43PM

What price loyalty?

Rate: 52 Flag


Image courtesy of A1 K9 professional dog trainers.  


"The subject who is truly loyal to the chief magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures." -- Junius 

"You're loyal like a dog," a friend once told me. I'm still not sure if it was a compliment, but because she is one of my oldest and dearest friends, I chose to take it that way. In a postmodern world where relative morality is all the rage, my fascination with the perception and value of loyalty remains intact. I was taught early in life that loyalty is one of the benchmarks of a moral person. Loyalty to spouses, friends, family, church, employers, employees and country was a given. Of course, even then not everyone was loyal, but to be disloyal was considered a much greater transgression than it is now. That time was not so very long ago. The expression "a man's word is his bond" was not steeped in irony and accompanied by a sneer. 

The dictionary defines loyalty as faithfulness, steadfastness, devotion, allegiance, trustworthiness and dependability. Mothers are almost always devoted to their children, they're hard-wired that way. Siblings may fight bitterly, then defend one another with equal passion. Spouses are not so loyal -- infidelity and divorce rates tell a grim tale. Since the downsizing/race-to-the-bottom mentality of North American society that began in the 80s, employers and workers are rarely loyal. Employers still demand loyalty, but increasingly, they are not getting it. Despite decades of employee downsizing in the midst of record profits to move operations to Third World countries -- so much for loyalty to country -- or to "streamline," employees still struggle with conflicting feelings about those who sign their paycheques. This is less true of younger workers probably because they've watched their parents lose jobs, and they're born of a generation permeated with the materialistic narcissism of the "I've got mine, Jack" dominant culture. And yet many of the young people I teach still express a need to be loyal, even if they know it won't necessarily be rewarded. 

It's a dog's life

What inspires blind loyalty in some people and not others? Some suggest that it's a fear of abandonment. People who haven't known much stability in their lives cling to what they have even if it's toxic to them. Others attribute a more healthy kind of loyalty to strong moral character, but as my friend noted, what's the point of being loyal to people who don't care about you? I think it's more complicated than that. People want to be loyal because it is easier to live with degrees of certainty than in a vaccum. Most of us yearn to believe the best about people no matter how many times we've been disappointed. It is possible to be aware of human frailties and remain loyal, although it's not always easy. This is where honour, another old-fashioned concept, comes into play. Those who scoff at loyalty tend to view life through a lens of "what have you done for me lately?" rather than collaboration to the benefit of both parties. There is also loyalty to self. For me, this means staying true to my principles no matter how much harder it is than doing what others want. This has cost me jobs, money, romantic partners and even friends, but I have not regretted it -- much.

In an age as cynical as ours, loyalty is often dismissed as old fashioned, self-destructive and even stupid. And yet the dog, revered for its loyalty in western culture, remains man's best friend. Nobody said human nature was easy to understand. 


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Yes, it's the "real" emma peel. I finally got my sign in back!
Wonderful Emma. Loyalty is not overrated as some would believe. Unfortunately some people think loyalty is one way street. There are the givers and the takers and I know most of us have run across them. You speak of the costs of being loyal to yourself, how true.
Emma, very nice to see that you were able to access your old account here! I think cats deserve a lot of praise for loyalty, too. I have had cats that were as loyal as any dogs! Let's hope that loyalty doesn't disappear from our society altogether some day.
There's actually two kinds of loyalty; the "old-fashioned, self-destructive and even stupid" kind which to which you refer, also known as "blind loyalty." That's the kind where a person is almost pathologically devoted to a person, cause or belief, no matter how illogical or unhealthy it may be. Then there's the other kind. If you have no loyalty to anything, then you're basically adrift.
loyalty is a core virtue.
it should only end after a betrayal, and even then, probably more than one; it depends on the betrayal's effect, and the calculation behind the betrayal.
i've learned to value loyalty more than i used to, before i really knew it felt to be treated disloyally by someone i thought was a great friend. that experience has made *me* more loyal as well as appreciate the virtue in others. good essay, emma.
Good topic. I particualrly appreciate the tie to dogs, though one doesn't keep me.
Emma: glad to see you back and writing. But let's not forget this in the U.S. of A. George W. Bush was extolled for his "loyalty." I just finished watching a PBS, five-part series about Aushwitz. All those Nazis were "loyal" to Hitler. I just read a NY Times column on how Republicans, loyal to their party, want to dismantle social programs.

No, in the late 20th - early-21st century, the word "loyalty" has undergone a major change. Inherent in that word, as you point out, is a sense of morality--right vs. wrong. But in an age that is media driven, loyalty is relegated to a brutal gang mentality. None of it has as its backbone (ask any pet owner) the virtue of AFFECTION or love which is reciprocal.

WTF: who is this Emma Peel 2 ???????????? I demand.....loyalty.....
I agree with your analysis and will add another facet. I am more loyal to people who are loyal to me than to those who aren't. And to be frank, I'm a little less trustworthy for friends who have betrayed me but with whom I don't want to face the drama of confrontation and rejection. I suspect I'm not alone here .
I guess your attitude towards "loyalty" is a bit like my affection for "honour". People don't use that word much these days, either, at least not seriously. But I still think it's important. I don't mean honour in a judgemental or snobbish way, or as in attempts to maintain a respectable facade. To me honour lies in the struggle to uphold your ideals. A man's word really should be his bond. That's my first loyalty (or at least I try to make it so).

I suppose you could express that as being more loyal to your principles than to people. Which isn't easy.
First off, YAY! for getting your signon back, I'm still confused though, is there a real emma peel? Just like is there a "real" Tinkerertink69???

Confusion!! :D

"Employers still demand loyalty, but increasingly they are not getting it."

I wonder why? GASP! ;)

My previous employer taught me some great lessons, one of those is, never ever give 120 percent, they won't even give you 5 percent.

Another is, be loyal enough to keep your job until something better comes along, then jump ship and flip them the bird. They'd do the same thing to you, and will, the first chance they get.

Also, something about kicking them in the balls, but well, they don't have any...



What do we do with Emma Peel 2 now?
Thanks for so many great comments. Can't believe I forgot to mention blind loyalty. And yes, cats can be loyal. I've been owned by more than a few.
@Old New Lefty: I'm going to keep emma peel 2 around for a while until I'm sure that my original account works. It's wonderful to be back!
I'm old-fashioned too, apparently.
Exquisite and well written. You control who you are, giving up loyalty to these bosses and corporate idiots is passe' in the least. However way you look at it Emma describing loyalty, comparing the separate reasons is unsure but I do believe there are bonds and existence that have shaped a life demands the utmost respect and if loyalty it is...sure could include love. Be well.......o/e R++++
Funny that you mentioned "blind loyalty" I was just about to leave a comment about it when I read yours. I have seen loyalty just for the sake of it or for gaining favour which is a total turn off. And (in my books) not really loyalty at all. I'll take respect and understanding over loyalty and even "love", if necessary. Good essay Emma. I'm, more of a 'cat person" anyways ...;)
But. . . I was just beginning to like the other Emma Peel - She looked less rigid and more approachable. :o)

I have suffered disloyalties in my life, but I don't let them change my principle which can be summarized in the words of Ada Velez-Boardley: Loyalty is the pledge of truth to oneself and others.

I also agree with Designanator that cats are very loyal animals - at least I've been blessed in the cat department.

Relevant post.
Monkeys are more loyal than cats or dogs put together. You should hear the things they talk about when you human types aren't listening, "Kill em in their sleep!" the cat will mutter.

"Buts first we make sure we're in the will!" the dog answers back.

"But who will feed us and tell us night night stories?" The monkey, the voice of reason, asks.

"We'll hire somebody!" they both growl.


Monkey rated!!!!
Wow, Hawley, you been reading my mail. Or my mind.

Emma, loyalty is fine and wonderful, but it needs to be deserved... Dogs keep on being loyal no matter what, poor creatures...
Proud to see that first comment because that was my first question on seeing this post.
I like the ideas you post about and question the reasons I continue to remain friends with several. Yet I find my lists are shrinking as time goes on.
Loyality is a strange misunderstood human trait and yet the dogs have it too. You make me think Emma. Thanks for this and write more girl. I have missed ya.
Good post. Loyalty is the most important thing between two people, the ones that pledge to love. Dogs are great, they just get it....
I value loyalty and consider myself a loyal friend, in fact it is difficult to let go .. I never looked at it psychologically I only know that as you intimated in your post, it's a trait I admire and strive for.
Nicely outlined, both defense and offense.
Emma. Perhaps takes a perspective from across the "pond "to recognize that, in this s disposable age and disposable culture, some traits like loyalty are a balm too our wounds. Bravo!
" There is also loyalty to self. For me, this means staying true to my principles no matter how much harder it is than doing what others want. This has cost me jobs, money, romantic partners and even friends, but I have not regretted it -- much." These words ring so true for me....in every way. -R-
How very nice to see you, my dear. Loyalty is one of the virtues — exemplifying the very best of human behavior, honed by centuries of trial and error. But Discernment is also one of the virtues. It is important to discern — carefully — when, where and upon whom we place our loyalties. As you indicated, Loyalty should never be a blanket attitude.
Many facets to this one emma. The standard virtue of loyalty can be justified as an example of the Golden Rule. But loyalties can conflict. You may have been loyal to a friendly and supportive colleague. But what happens if you find out that the colleague is, say, cutting corners, falsifying reports or embezzling? Don't you owe loyalty to your employer too, or perhaps it's loyalty to the moral principle of honesty? Aren't whistleblowers showing greater loyalty to a higher moral good than to their employers and colleagues?

I see loyalty as a virtue but not an unqualified one. Were the Republican congressmen who did NOT vote to impeach Nixon being loyal to a fault? How much credit do the loyal SS officers who supported Hitler to the end merit? Should I have ratted out married colleagues who were having affairs? It seems there are higher principles and that the virtue of loyalty depends on what one is loyal too.

Thought-provoking article and nice to see a non-meta post from you.
Congrats on reclaiming your 'true self', Emma! I suppose loyalty cross pollenates with hope, which is why we tend to remain loyal even to those who have disappointed us. At least that is my excuse:)
Welcome back "Emma #1!" An old fashioned adage comes to mind:

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

If loyal you are to others, then loyalty will come back to you tenfold.

A sense of loyalty is taught, I believe. A special kind of paying it forward, in kind.
I am an old fashioned kind of guy and I was taught a certain moral code by my father. At the top of that list was loyality, but not blind loyality. He always said that if a friend is leading you to do or say something that is wrong....back away. He always thought it was important not to comprimise your own ethics just to be loyal to a friend. A real friend wouldn't ask that of you.
Because I am a fan of the classics, and after reading so many of the comment here, I was reminded of this quote that graces the editorial pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper. "The subject who is truly loyal to the chief magistrate will neither advise or submit to arbitrary measures." –– Junius

I believe that this applies to friendship, love, business -- whatever human relationship that can be imagined. Norwonk and others have got me thinking that perhaps my essay should have been about honour, not loyalty, although I believe they can exist together.
Thank goodness you've returned -- the schizophrenia was very disturbing to your loyal fans
This meditation is particularly timely for me because I've been trying to decide whether or not it was disloyal for Arianna Huffington to sell The Huffington Post to the hightest bidder. Does she owe her loyalty to her progressive readership I can't seem to settle on a point of view. I was reading an op-ed in the Washington Post today about the vicissitudes of her political life. It seems that loyalty cannot be counted among her virtues. Would I give up millions to remain loyal to a cause? It would depend on how much I had to begin with--from my current financial state, I think not.
The real Emma is back!

"Most of us yearn to believe the best about people no matter how many times we've been disappointed."

Too true, but there's a limit to it for me, after which loyalty is just an exercise in masochism. I'm loyal as a dog (that's a compliment as far as I'm concerned), but too many kicks and not enough scratches behind the ears and I'll find some other porch to lay under. :-)
"Dauntless fidelity" is another way to express the distinctive aspect of human solidarity you've written about in a down to earth way. Emma, my guess is you live in university community or a "happening" major metro area on either coast.

There is still good news about marriage.

People still do unto others even to those who do throw others under the bus. Nothing blind or stupid about this form of loyalty. Whether we speak the language of quantum physics or refer to proverbs of indigenous peoples we can't escape the fact we are all connected---like it or not. We are our brother's keeper.

"With all things and in all things, we are relatives". Sioux

Yeah, we live in a post-modern cynical age but it is passing away----the changing of the guard has started.

Oh, if it's okay with you I want to tweak the part of about a man's best friend being a dog: A good man's best friend is a good woman and add a dog a best woman friend for the wife and guy friend for the husband and you have heaven. Maybe that is heaven !

The dictionary defines loyalty as faithfulness, steadfastness, devotion, allegiance, trustworthiness and dependability. Mothers are almost always devoted to their children, they're hard-wired that way. Siblings may fight bitterly, then defend one another with equal passion. Spouses are not so loyal -- infidelity and divorce rates tell a grim tale. Since the downsizing/race-to-the-bottom mentality of North American society that began in the 80s, employers and workers are rarely loyal. Employers still demand loyalty, but increasingly, they are not getting it.
I once paid a hooker to have sex with my Great Dane. After this he always tried to hump my girlfriends. It got to be so bad, I took him out in the woods and shot him. WTF. Stupid dog. BADDABING!
It seems loyalty to people is valued, but blind loyalty to ideas not so much. I read somewhere that in everybody's (psychologists, educators, cognitive scientists) definition of "high IQ," there is some inclusion of flexibility of mind. GWB comes to mind when I think of stubborn loyalty to a bad idea. So it's interesting that we like loyalty to people. I know I do.
Beautifully written and stated :~D Thx! *r*
You can't confuse MI6 - we know your still wearing the same leather, just not bending over or showing so much of yourself........
If you stand back a tad the cctv will have a better view.

Regards - Steed
You have spoken well and true. The virtues which ancient Greeks figured out still apply. The virtues are linked, and when one link fails we huddle closer to the dying firelight, as a new darkness descends

Rated, Liked, Linked.
I do not understand disloyalty. I'm ridiculous, an anachronism in a world of me now - you, well...too bad.

Loyalty is about commitment and mostly about giving a damn. This isn't a world where we give so much as a fig, much less a damn about anyone but yours truly. I cringe when I read about people looking to hire killers to snuff out spouses. I think to myself why not get a divorce? I'm not stupid. I know it's not enough to do the dump, they need to turn a profit with it, too.

So we've not just lost our sense of loyalty and commitment, we've lost our bearings entirely I think. Someone I thought I knew said something recently that floored me. He suggested that if he had sufficient funds, he would walk away from his entire life, children, wife, job, obligations and start fresh. START FRESH!

How is this starting fresh? Yet, we can do it in this day and age, without so much as a blink of an eye. Dump the old, on with the new! Look back at your convenience.

It is a sad place, our global modern high tech go for the gold world. I'm glad I'm old. Or older. I'm glad my friends are my friends and my family is my family. But I'm glad I'm not going to see this world in it's continued downward spiral. As it's always been, the worst is yet to come.

My only regret is I won't read the historical accounts of our times. But I'm glad I won't be living in the world being created now, as I type. Very much so.
Thanks for this post. I love dogs and feel if only people could have their ability to be as friendly and loyal to their friends then all would be a merrier place.
Tough topic to write about specially with humans. Pet animals are a whole different breed! Good work and welcome back!
To My Dear Monsieur Chariot (FYI) et al:

When Medussa, the ugly gorgon, who turns men to stone, comes into existence as a result of disloyalty, is slain what emerges is Pegasus, the winged horse of creativity, and the Sword of Discernment.

In my life, that "myth" has proven to be true.
To relate the myth of Lancelot and Arthur, Lancelot was loyal to Arthur because Arthur defeated him. The point being Arthur EARNED loyalty. Then threw it away then re-earned it.

I kind of wonder if the blind loyalty of some people is that of those in an abusive relationship as alluded to in the blog. It's someting known no matter how bad.

People were ,and still are blindly loyal to Adolf Hitler and other historical monsters, no matter how much evidence there is of atrocities committed.

People stay with companies for years no matter how poorly they are treated. And I do mean poorly. Been there done that won't go back.

The question of blind loyalty becomes truly relevant this week.

With Penn States beloved coach Joe Paterno knowlingly NOT following through with reporting the rape of a juvenile by a staff member we have people siding with him and elevating him further to god status in the face of proof and admission of guilt.

There was a mention of honor. Supposedly Paterno instilled great qualities in his players. They claim. What kind of man tries to sweep this under the rug? What kind of man looks the other way so as not to hurt his reputation, or the reputation of the school? Or for the game and his own glory?

The type of man is one with no honor. No morals. No ethics. Only ego. Only pride. Only a narcissistic view of his own worth.

The type of people who would support a monster such as this are no better than slaves. Fools who would give their loyalty to a monster who allowed children to be raped and did only the barest he needed to do, he thought, to legally cover himself. Fools who are in the thrall of a monster because of a game!

I wonder how many of his current players have enough self respect to walk away?

Personally I would be loyal to someone who walked away from the monster. Why? Because they stood up for morals, justice and ethics. In other words because they earned it.
Humans have more nerve endings than dogs. It ain't easy being human, especially if you revere the honest accounting of dogs, who have low expectations; even of us. ;-)

with love, from your loyal friend...
So nice to read your words in the middle of the night. A beacon of light! Good topic. I'm loyal to you.
Excellent post, so glad to see the real emma peel back on OS!
And dogs ask for nothing but to accept their love...where in human world is it just that. Very nice piece.