Friday, November 21, 2008

Family, Friendships, and Loyalty

Tonight my mind is mulling over relationships. Why are we loyal? And what do we do to earn another's loyalty? And what brings us to love a stranger? And why should we do kind acts for people we hardly know? And what compels someone to choose to say something horrible about a person they barely know? Or even say something awful about someone they know well?

My parents came for a short visit this week while on a cross-country road trip. While they were here we got together with my mother's extended family. Many of the family members there had never met before, or hadn't seen each other in 15-20 years. And yet, in spite of barely knowing each other, we had a wonderful time. All because we were family. We welcomed each other in immediately, and all left with a larger and loving family. We even sang happy birthday and enjoyed cake for a cousin most of us had never met before.
Why? Is a common gene pool and shared blood enough reason to just open your heart and accept others? Even if you have never met before?

A tiny portion of my family. 
A few days ago a person I have a professional relationship with made a mistake that unfortunately penalized and restricted me briefly. But before I even found out about the mistake the person had gone to great personal trouble to get the problem fixed, when the truth is, it probably could have waited. But he chose to do it because he felt bad and wanted to make sure I was okay.Why would someone who is essentially a stranger go to such trouble to help?

In the same day someone else made a mistake that penalized me. He has yet to apologize or even attempt to fix it. In fact, he questioned me as to why the penalty was even a problem. Why didn't he feel compelled to want to make things right?

And then...
My former employer sent me an absolutely nasty threatening letter. As if not paying her employees isn't enough, and causing all of us to lose our jobs, she sent me a threatening letter. Most of her letter just made me laugh. It was full of lies and total stupidity. But the biggest joke of them all, was her accusation that ALL of my former co-workers are stabbing me in the back, and have provided her with "documentation" about how difficult I was to work with. And that is really what has me thinking about friendships and loyalty. Her claim is completely false. The one good thing to come out of the absolute disaster that was that company was the great friendships and loyalties that were formed. How many jobs have you left where you really kept up your office friendships later? But have you ever stayed friends with nearly every co-worker? In our case, 5 of the 7 main employees continue to be good friends and speak on a regular basis. In fact, we have each other's backs. We have liberally and generously provided each other with job referrals and references. We ask each other for professional advice. We are all friends on Facebook, our blogs, Twitter, and more. Barely a day goes by where I don't talk to at least one of them. It is interesting to me that my former employer probably never even considered that we would be loyal to each other, or even continue our friendships beyond the walls of her company. Why doesn't she feel compelled to pay her employees? Why doesn't she expect us to all be friends and loyal to each other?
So why do we do it?
Why are we loyal to some people and not to others? Why do we accept some people, while other people choose to reject everyone around them? Why are some people always willing to go the extra mile or do the unexpected thing just because? While others never even consider how their actions can hurt or penalize another person?


  1. Wow. If I had all those answers, I probably would need to work. I'd just sit atop a mountain and give advice to those who seek it!

    But I do know one answer. Why would someone who is a virtual stranger step beyond their responsibilty to make something right?
    Because they are a good person. They may or may not be a Christian, doing the right thing in the eyes of God. Maybe they just do it because it IS the right thing to do.
    Mostly, people like that - go above and beyond because that is what they would expect if the roles were reversed.
    The whole do unto others bit.

    And we are very fortunate to have those sort of people in this big scary world.
    Be sure to thank him.

  2. shoulda been wouldN'T need to work.


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