Loyalty Stakes

Lately I’ve come under fire from my friends and peers (and enemies too) over what has been perceived to be disloyalty. Nobody enjoys being accused of anything, falsely or otherwise and I’m no different. It has really got my head spinning. Well, what is this about, you may wonder. As depicted on my twitter bio, I happen to be an avid supporter of Arsenal (14 years to be precise). Apparently lately I’ve been spotted warming up to Manchester United and waxing their lyricals, in public. Is this true? Well, in typical Wenger-speak, I refuse to comment on speculation. What am I driving at? One word; loyalty.

Accordingly I checked up the meaning of the word ‘loyalty’ from the Encarta Dictionary (yes, right on my computer’s taskbar) and this is what I got: a feeling of devotion, duty, or attachment to somebody or something. So yes, it is a feeling (maybe that’s why people have caught feelings about it…maybe). What acts constitute loyalty (and disloyalty)? It might seem trivial, but when your loyalty to a cause you’ve been very much a part for two-thirds of your life is called into question, it becomes as pertinent as it can get. I thought, well, I might as well highlight a few situations, bring them to your consideration and let you decide where, how and why loyalty stakes play out.

Where best to start other than football? And once again I’ll draw my examples from Arsenal and United. Cesc Fabregas is born in Catalunya, and grows up supporting his home club, FC Barcelona, whose academy, La Masia he joins. We assume his allegiance lies with Barca, right? At 16, Arsenal spot his talent and sign him. He then goes on to mature, make strides and become a man at this London club, even becoming Captain. He is loved and adored by all the Arsenal faithful. At this juncture I must point out that he is my hero. His loyalty now lies with Arsenal, right? He’s supposed to stay till he retires, aye? Well, 8 years later, his boyhood club, Barcelona come calling and they will stop at nothing to get their son back. He obliges and leaves Arsenal fans in distraught. He was supposed to be loyal, they say. He betrayed us.

Next, one Robin Van Persie is signed by Arsenal as a young precocious raw talent aged 21. It’s obvious this Dutch boy is gifted tremendously. Sadly his Arsenal career is blighted by injuries thus limiting his progress for the first 7 years. After that he comes of age, a master of the sublime art of scoring goals. Robin too, becomes Arsenal Captain. The manager praises him, the fans adore him, the players are in awe of him and the neutrals simply won’t stop going on and on about him. He reiterates that he loves the club. What next? He leaves for, wait for it…Manchester United. Yes, he was supposed to be loyal, but has decided to wine and dine at the table of the enemy…the Devil! Anyway, are these exemplary footballers too thick to the extent of disregarding the meaning of loyalty and what it entails? Or is loyalty not that big a deal, you know, just like changing clothes?

Let’s head closer home. I’ve never been a fan of cooking and always believed that it was strictly a preserve for the female folk. As time would elapse, it would be a question as to whether I would stick to that notion or my loyalty to somebody superior would trump that. That somebody of course is my mother. So one day she leaves for work and instructs that I prepare supper that it’s about time I did so. I’m obviously not amused, but by God I swear I made supper that night. What happened to staying loyal to the principle the ‘cooking is for girls’? Still on matters kitchen, when I began cooking for myself at school, I would insist on the Chipsy brand of cooking fat, much to the chagrin of my female friends who would often push for other brands. Why so? The brand I use is the very same one mum uses at home, and since I’m loyal to her, nothing or nobody is always ever going to alter that.

A story is told of a young man who often tries to find love but always misses out and if not, he doesn’t get what he really wants. Then he finds this (in his words) awesome chic and can’t help but fall madly head over heels for her. All is falling into place, except that the awesome chic swings the other way and prefers those of her sex. Admittedly, she likes this guy too, but you know…preferences. The young man wonders whether he should stay loyal to his Christian values which would otherwise dictate he doesn’t associate with the girl, or whether he ought to listen to and heed the voice of his heart, and love this girl regardless. By the way, what do you think? Either way, he will be loyal to something, right?

What about this other guy who loves this girl, but is oblivious of the fact that his best friend in the world is also attracted to said girl. The girl maintains that they are nothing more than just friends with the best friend. So the guy figures, the coast is indeed clear, right? After all, in his thinking, he has managed a delicate balancing act of staying loyal to both his best friend and to his heart too. The best friend, as it would turn out is not impressed by this turn of events and considers it a betrayal. The guy in question thus is faced with a big decision; love, or best-friendship? Suffice to say, that fledgling relationship ends. Loyalty to the best friend (and bro) has won. Sadly, I may add.

Those are just a few of the examples that I had in mind for you to chew on and digest. There’s the classic loyalty or commitment of sorts to your religion, where you’ve gone out for a meal with friends who are of different denominations to yours. The waiter brings the served food and before partaking it, you wonder whether you should say that grace before meals with the sign of the cross to boot and make others uncomfortable, or you should just desist for the sake of all else’s comfort. Do you stay loyal to your religion or to your friends?

I felt particularly bad when I was brandished ‘disloyal’ when on the inside I knew I was not. Castigating your team (harshly) while at the same time lavishing praises of epic proportions on your mortal enemies is not being disloyal and if it is, then I wonder where the rain started beating me. I think, nay, I’m convinced loyalty is absolutely overrated. Nothing is constant, and this includes tastes and preferences. The only constant here is change…and loyalty is subject to change. When you stop being loyal to something or somebody, it doesn’t necessarily imply you are being disloyal. I tend to think it means you are just being loyal to something else which gives you the satisfaction that you’re after. So before we call someone ‘disloyal’ let us pause and think for a while. Just to be clear, be loyal to your God…and to your family…and to your motherland. The rest? Well, that’s totally up to your discretion.