Few words in our language are so overworked and in such a variety of questionable company as the word loyalty. How often is it used in the every-day world unadulterated by self-interest—selfishness? The thief continues "loyal" to his gang as long as self-interest prompts; the hypocrite professes loyalty because deception is necessary to protect himself from exposure; the traitor must feign loyalty, else his plots will miscarry; the politician—not the statesman, mark you—is none the less guilty of misappropriating this defenseless little word to further his own ends or those of his ring. And so on; self-interest has so blinded mankind that any and every word of noble ancestry is seized, manacled, and forced to slave for selfish purposes. And the proof is not far to seek; for the moment that self-interest prompts a change of base, weary loyalty is hastily redressed in gaudier garb and compelled to play a new title role. Why do not such people call a spade a spade, and say, "Selfishness prompts me to take the stand or make the change I do"? Such a statement would at least be honest, and in that sense would express loyalty to one's self-interest; but—selfishness hisses so; it lacks the suave sound of loyalty!

What is loyalty itself, to be valued so highly that it is so often counterfeited? In a roundabout way it has come from the Latin lex, or law, and on its journey has acquired the glorified sense of devoted allegiance, constancy, fidelity. It is manifested by obedience, hearty service, self-sacrifice. And what do these reveal as the underlying motive or cause? What else but love? Loyalty is the first-born of love, obedience its passport; achievement its heritage. Love is the thought that blesses—blesses even those who deride, who betray, who crucify. Love trusts; loyalty dares; obedience conquers. Loyalty is love in action; obedience is love demonstrated. Love knows; loyalty searches; obedience finds. Love always attracts, never repels; loyalty ever unifies, never separates; obedience always guards, never attacks that which is good, beautiful, pure, and true. This defining of what loyalty is and what it is not, reveals the trinity—obedience, loyalty, and love—in unity, indissoluble; for without loyalty there can be no obedience, without obedience, no loyalty; without obedience and loyalty no love.

May 16, 1908

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