“Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten

Assignment prompt: As much as loyalty is the foundation of our relationships with friends and those we love, our loyalties are always getting hopelessly tangled and compromised. Even if we want to commit ourselves to being true, we can never escape the conflicting demands that our contradictory loyalties create. The loyalties we have to various people can come into conflict; the loyalties we have to family may clash with the loyalties we bear our friends; our personal loyalties may be at odds with our patriotic duties.

Adapted from Eric Felten, Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue

Assignment: Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

There is no person in this world who wouldn’t like to be good, kind, loving, and generous to other people. Nevertheless, various situations lead us on different paths. Loyalty is not a universal category. A child has to deal with the expectations of his parents.

He needs to be loyal to them, but he is enticed to bypass the truth when he needs to stay loyal to his friends or first love. When people are faced with conflicting loyalties, there is only one way forward: they need to stay true to themselves.

We are all living our lives according to certain principles. When we stop being loyal to ourselves for the sake of keeping conflict situations out of important relations, we become deeply unhappy. Our wish to please other people leads to a sterile life without any spark that leads to self-improvement.

Of course I want everyone around me to be happy, but what happens when the loyalty towards my partner is conflicted with the loyalty towards my friends and parents? I start thinking about the way my decision would affect other people, and I come to a conclusion that there is no way for everyone to remain happy with my choices. The only right solution is to stay true to myself.

Many couples have remained together because they feel the need to be loyal to each other. They are tied with the bond of guilt even when they lose the genuine connection. How do they behave when they are alone? What do they say? Their conversations are brought down to daily occasions.

Sooner or later, they realize that loyalty is an overestimated concept when it is associated to our relations to other people. In exhausted relationships, the distance is not measured in miles; it is visible in inches. In most relations we maintain, loyalty is strangled in a rigid world of standards imposed by society. Once we are done posing with our smiling faces for an Instagram photo, we are left in the most uncomfortable silence.

There is no way to remain loyal to everyone we love. The only way to be happy and fulfilled is to remain a close connection with ourselves. I don’t consider that to be an act of selfishness. If we tried to please everyone else, we would come into conflict with our own moral standards.

Emotional illiteracy is closely related to conflicted loyalties. It takes courage to admit that our own contentment is the driving force for making everyone else happy. If our relations with the people we love are healthy, they will understand and support our decisions.

It would be wrong to think that people who strive to achieve their goals are not loyal to the ones they love. Personal growth is tied to the loyalty towards our own plans and beliefs. In relationships, loyalty is firmly intertwined with freedom.

When people are free to make their own decisions without taking the bond into a conflict, they are able to remain faithful, loyal, and committed forever.

Read new assignment prompt “Is listening more important than speaking when you are trying to persuade others?” – by Libuse Binder

2 thoughts on ““Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten

  1. “In relationships, loyalty is firmly intertwined with freedom. ” – it’s so true…

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