Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Taking It Home: Loyalty

Part of Virtue Ethics

Loyalty is still the same, whether it win or lose the game; true as a dial to the sun, although it be not shined upon. — Samuel Butler, novelist

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we discussed loyalty. In addition to loyalty to family, friends, and institutions, we talked about loyalty to one's congregation and Unitarian Universalism. This was our concluding workshop, so today we are bringing our completed anklets home. The anklets are physical reminders of our promise to make decisions that affirm we are virtuous and loving people.

  • Loyalty to one's faith has led many people to face imprisonment, torture, and death. For example, many Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians perished during the medieval Crusades. Unitarian Universalism also has its martyrs. Research Arius, Michael Servetus, Norbert Capek, Toribio Quimada, James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo on the Internet to learn more.
  • People are not the only creatures that demonstrate loyalty. Question: Which animal is portrayed as the most loyal? Answer: Dogs. They are "man's best friend," right? Dogs are not the only pets that have committed incredibly loyal acts, sometimes endangering themselves. Reader's Digest has a collection of animal hero stories. Do you or your friends have stories to tell?
  • What do the television shows you watch say about loyalty? Betrayal is a popular subject on many shows, including Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill, and Lie To Me. Some reality TV shows, for example, Big Brother, The Bachelor, and America's Next Top Model, appear to reward betrayals, or, at the very least, encourage dramatic betrayals. Does the mass media portray loyalty or betrayal as the "norm?"
  • Businesses spend a lot of time on trying to earn their customers' loyalty. Are you loyal to certain brands of clothing, sneakers, food? What do you gain from such loyalty? What do you look for in a product or a business that makes you loyal? Do you think such loyalty is a virtue?
  • The book Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue by Eric Felten (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011) offers both a modern and an historical view of loyalty. It includes an analysis of Antigone, a play by the Greek dramatist, Sophocles, which appears on many high schools' required reading lists. This political drama involves a royal teenager who has to choose between her own self interests and her loyalty to a family member. Read a translation from the ancient Greek on Googlebooks. A modern version was written by the French playwright Jean Anouilh in 1944, during the Nazi occupation of France.