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  • Sherise Schlaht

LOST IN LOYALTY

#thoughtfultuesday returns. This week’s content was born out of a conversation that took place at the beginning of the week. It was the type of conversation that toured some deep and dark personal avenues rather unexpectedly, yet they weren’t off topic nor were they retold from a place of pain. It is always interesting when you reflect on a conversation and think, “How did the conversation get there?” Such a strange phenomenon when stories move through us even though we haven’t given them thought in quite some time, and we can recount them devoid of emotional attachment. I suppose it is appropriate to accept that everything is what it is. I am also aware that it is most definitely not helpful to create a story on top of another story, so I will keep my reflection on the conversation to a minimum. Anyways, the portion of this conversation that set the gears in motion was in relation to the concept of loyalty. I am sure you, like I, have been told a heroic narrative about loyalty. According to the Collins English Dictionary, loyalty is defined as a quality, state or instance of being loyal; faithfulness or faithful adherence to a person, government, cause, duty, etc. This narrative was seemingly reinforced in my search for quotes that explored the shadow side of loyalty, which by the way, were nowhere to be found. In my typical oppositional nature to the norm, I am here today to reveal the bullshit side of loyalty. You see, in the true nature of paradox that all is founded on, loyalty cannot exist without betrayal. To elaborate on this point further, when you are loyal to something external, the betrayal is at your own expense, and vice versa. Given that the ego is innately selfish, there do exist times when loyalty to the collective is the honourable choice. However, I am convinced that, quite often, our loyalty creates a spiral of betrayal that isn’t in alignment with integrity. The fallout of this betrayal is something that our ego feeds on and convinces us that, in the name of loyalty, we are inherently good and made the correct decision. So, my fair friends, don’t be fooled by the illusion that is loyalty.

It is important to highlight that to be human does not mean we are inherently good or evil; we are all a conglomerate of both ends of this spectrum. At various times in life, we lie in bed with Hades, while at others with Zeus. Loyalty for me often shows up as compassion, which I now label “idiot compassion.” There is a point in which compassion is no longer fundamentally compassionate.

I was raised on a farm outside of an extremely small town, a hamlet to be exact, of which in some shape or form everyone was related. Survival in this extended family of a hamlet was predicated on one’s ability to fit in. Unfortunately, to move with the alignment of whatever the made-up norm so happened to be, it wasn’t enough to follow suit on an individual level. It was crucial that each nuclear family unit also operated in this manner. Regardless of one’s inclination to fit in and avoid disruption, if your nuclear family unit wasn’t perceived this way, you were chopped liver too. This is the sociological phenomena of social sanctioning; where the collective provides ramifications to ensure compliance. On some level, every social interaction and/or system operates this way. The challenge I bring forth in this example is, what happens when the sanctioning of the collective isn’t in alignment with one’s concept of integrity?

Of course, we could enter a philosophical debate about what integrity is, which I am sorry to say, I am not interested in engaging in. This is the importance of connecting to the real YOU, not the you that exists on an egoic level; the soul YOU. The soul YOU innately knows when something aligns or does not; it provides deeply assured YES’ and NO’s. When you are attuned the soul YOU, the answers unwaveringly flow through you. To hear the soul YOU, one has to seek out stillness and silence. This does not mean you have to adopt some dogmatic yoga or meditation practice, as everyone has their own avenue of connecting with their inner depths. Often, my soul answers come to me at strange times. The most recent was when I was walking my dog under the vast black sky alight with starts. I felt this immense sense of mystery, awe, and peace amongst the cosmos. So much so, that I was overcome with emotion and began crying. The amount of clarity and connection in this space is unperceivable and unexplainable.

In the unfolding of loyalty, the trepidation we face when we do not know our soul selves becomes apparent. Without knowing our internal soul selves, we are blindly and irresponsibly making decisions in the hopes that the outcome will provide is with the validation of our self-concept that we are looking for. I imagine that this is the dance we engage in when we are faced with large or life altering decisions. I can assure you that validation will always be offered and received, but either way it does very little to aide our knowing of self. In fact, it will add layers to the egoic conceptualization of self. As was mentioned above, if we are reinforced for our loyalty, we believe that we are good and deny that our decision caused harm. Depending on one’s inclination, it will be easier to betray the self, or betray others. I fully acknowledge the many times I bought into the ideal of loyalty to others and left myself stranded and unguarded. I can also guarantee that others have experienced betrayal by my hand.

The overall point is that a significant amount of responsibility comes with making any decision. In being loyal to one side, the other is betrayed. Since we are unable to do no harm, it becomes that much more crucial that we dig deep and use our soul self as the guiding force. I have been the recipient of betrayal in social groups and family, which honoured the collective over my pain. When the wound is revisited, the sting remains and lingers. This pain has been a gift, as it urges me to connect with my soul self. Also, with this pain in mind, I can choose to refrain from participating in situations that reinforce and encourage its existence. This is a choice that we all have. As I close this week, I am reminded that to know pain is to know you are alive.


Until next time,


Sherise

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