The Ancient Way of Honor and Loyalty
— Carl Sagan
The Boy Scouts of America was once considered to be the training ground for our nation's leaders. It was intended to grow boys into men of character. To teach them to be virtuous. To impart upon them the importance of many noble traits that included two of the most critical men of integrity have embraced since before the dawn of time: Honor and Loyalty.
Sadly, the Boy Scouts, or rather the BSA as they have been calling themselves since deciding to admit females, have recently filed for bankruptcy. The reason for the move is a combination of factors -- among them withdrawal of the Mormon Church's participation since they went co-ed. The other is a mass of lawsuits over alleged sexual abuse and misconduct dating back decades. Whether or not the organization will recover, or even survive, is unknown. But it's a forgone conclusion that it will never be what it once was. The Scouts are the latest once-revered institution that has fallen in the war against American Civilization. An onslaught waged by enemies, both foreign and domestic, that began decades ago.
Peace, prosperity, civil order, and human decency are the telltales of a healthy society. They have been since the first civilizations appeared in the historical record. And even though present-day academics, political leaders, and "activists" love to focus on injustices and tragedies of the past, the fact is humans have come a long way since we dwelt in trees and caves. Over the long road of evolution, we've learned through trial and error what worked and what didn't when it came to making things better for ourselves and our fellow man. Such traditions eventually evolved into cultures, which then served as the social cohesion necessary for a given civilization to come into existence.
None of this came quickly or all at once. It was layered, little by little over the decades, centuries, and millennia. Built-up over time like the patina on an ancient work of art. Something beautiful. Something eternal. And not something that should be casually tossed aside on a whim for the sake of temporary convenience.
Over the past several decades, we have seen too many of our traditions vilified, attacked, and destroyed in an orgy of mindlessness. But this did not occur on the ramparts of a fortress or in battles fought in streets. It was the picking at the threads of the ancient concept of Honor and Loyalty that held humanity together for most of our existence.
During times of war, it held together nations. During times of famine, it held together communities. And during times of economic hardship, sickness, or emotional tragedy, it held together families. When the enemies were at the gate and threatened the life and limb of all in a city, soldiers would give their lives to protect their fellow citizens and the nation so many had worked so hard to create. If there was a bad harvest, a plague of locusts, or some other misfortune that reduced the food supply, the adults saw to it that the children ate before they did so the next generation would live on. And if employment was lost, poverty experienced, a spouse became sick, or a child died, a family stuck together, survived, and moved on as best it could. Those with a sense of Honor and Loyalty didn't quit. They didn't walk away. They didn't run. Such ideas never entered their minds. If they had, most of us, or none of us, would not be here today.
But in our modern world, these ancient, time-tested ideals are being made obsolete. The attitudes of "me only" and instant gratification have taken hold of our world as the most virulent of cancers would ravage a once-healthy body.
Among the casualties of this disease is the attitude toward the traditional bond of friendship. Alliances formed over many years that became as close or closer than those of blood relatives were once as necessary for survival as food and shelter in an often brutal world. Our ancestors learned that misfortune visits all of us during our lives and the way out of such dire circumstances is only possible with the help of others. But in recent history, friendships for most people have devolved into nothing more than convenient, temporary relationships. An interaction with another person that has to have a specific purpose and, usually, an expiration date or exit strategy. Something to be discarded at the least indication of trouble or difficulty. A far cry from the times when men and women would take up arms and charge into danger to defend their adopted brothers and sisters, and death before dishonor was a literal way of life.
In the present-day United States, being loyal and honorable can not only prove to be bad policy, but it can also lead to disaster. Unless both parties are of the same mindset, one will, by definition, be taking advantage of the other with predictable consequences. These days being loyal to one's employer is considered to be foolishly naive, just as much of Corporate America cares nothing for the people and families for whom they are providing a livelihood. Wives and husbands will end their marriages for reasons our ancestors would have thought insane, resulting in horrifying consequences to the children of the now-broken family. Pain and suffering that reaches generations into the future begun on an emotional whim.
All of this only ends up in once place, and it isn't a good one. Humans are social creatures. And when the bonds that hold society together break, the whole structure comes tumbling down. Nothing works, and life becomes a struggle in misery for all but the few at the top who preside over the smoldering ruin of a once-prosperous, thriving civilization. A dark age descends and remains until the lessons learned long ago by the ancestors are taken up, and the crawl out of the muck can begin anew.
In recent years, the absence of Honor and Loyalty in American society has also wreaked havoc on our political system and the personal relationships of those who often have nothing more than a passing interest in the topic. Not that long ago, people who were close friends could have polar differences on just about any topic of public affairs, and it would not affect their valued friendships. The same also applied to married couples. Kitchen table debates between a husband and wife over the issues of the day were once a common occurrence. Such disagreements were once thought of as a matter of taste or "team loyalty" to a particular party or candidate. Viewpoints that would no more affect the peace and integrity of the home than the way one spouse likes to have their eggs cooked or another wants to have their coffee served. No one sane ended a friendship, let alone a marriage, over how a vote was cast in an election.
Loyalty to another person never comes easily. It takes years. It's an investment, of a sort. Like civilization itself, it's built up in layers over time. This is why it's essential to take a long-term view of the entire history of any relationship and take such a history into account when dealing with any situation that may come along. Yet the present-day approach to such things is only to consider the present and not anything that came before. To "not look to the past" or "move ahead." What you then have is not really a friend or life partner. What you have are long-running acquaintances — relationships built on sand. Loyalty cannot develop under such conditions. It doesn't die for it was never conceived.
Fortunately, many members of the younger generations are sensing something is wrong with their world and are looking to the past for guidance. There has been a resurgent interest among those in their 20s and 30s in history, traditions, culture, literature, and family structures. The idea of marrying for life, having a religious tradition as part of one's being, a moral code to live by, an embrace of patriotism and, of course, Honor and Loyalty as a guiding force in everyday life. Unfortunately, a resurgence in these interests is often condemned by many leftist/liberal politicians and their army of “social justice warriors” as being an evil that must be stomped out. A challenge to a narrative that an increasing number of citizens don't agree with and are fleeing on a daily basis. This conflict has been termed The Cultural Civil War by many. But what it is, in reality, is a civilization trying to right itself so it can live on. A diseased body trying to throw off an infection before it's too late.
Humanity has had its ups and downs, its ebbs and flows, its good days and its bad days since our ancestors crawled out of some ancient ocean and began the long, arduous journey to the stars. The same goes for individuals, families, people, and nations. We have our good times and our bad times as we voyage along with the sun. But in the end, we can always bounce back with a little help from our friends, neighbors, and family. Bound together by Loyalty, motivated by a sense of Honor. It's an ancient and eternal concept that’s probably as old as the stars themselves, and perhaps not unique to our little, blue speck of a world.
Evolution, like survival itself, isn't just a happenstance of nature; it's a team sport. A game no individual can win on their own or in a state of isolation. Honor and Loyalty are the rules — the structure — that has made everything worth having possible throughout our history. It's been the guiding force that prevents us from falling off the edge and into the darkness when hope itself seems to be all but totally lost.
If we lose our sense of Honor and Loyalty, we lose everything that makes civilization possible. We will then be left to wallow upon the Earth until our sun goes out, and we lose the stars forever.
© 2020 Thomas Michael Caldwell. All Rights Reserved. This written work is not to be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author. Links to this page from other websites or social media accounts is permitted and encouraged.