Loyalty is the demonstration of constant unflinching and undivided belief and support for a person or a thing. We all have a few people in our lives whom we are either loyal to, and/or expect a degree of loyalty from. With friends and family, as much or more loyalty is almost always expected as a payback for loyalty. Not really confusing. It just means that friends and families always expect unflinching and undivided support from you for as much of the time as possible. It’s not much to ask of a cohort but at a point it does become just that.
Loyalty is a rare quality to come by and partly because of this, some may even dare to call it a virtue. Being loyal is hardly ever a bad thing as even blind loyalty can be a beautiful thing depending on the point of view we choose to judge from. It becomes a difficult choice, however, when we are forced to choose between our safety and freedom in the name of loyalty to friends or loved ones. One perhaps made even more difficult if we had to put our right to self-preservation aside to stand up for someone. I dare say this is the ultimate test of loyalty. Staying true to someone no matter what. And really for the most part, we are loyal to our friends and family, no matter the inconvenience it brings us. But should we still remain loyal knowing fully well we would be defending a misdeed.
While our conscience remains the judge of our moral actions, we have to answer to the law if ever found wanting. “Sooner or later, man will answer to his conscience” but as people differ from one another, so do their intentions and conscience. I have a different moral burden to bear than that which my best friend experiences. Though our intentions may be inclined, our consciences differ and there is no telling if a friend’s action will go down as well with my conscience as it may with his. Therefore in supporting him, I am not only being loyal to a friend but I am encouraging his wrongdoing.
We all have jumped in support of a close friend or a family member at one point or another, sometimes even without accurate or adequate knowledge of their actions. In some cases, we know too little to testify as a witness. In others we may know nothing at all about it. We are all human and may find ourselves overpowered by the burning will to protect an ally despite our awareness of their guilt. This is a situation both the disloyal and the loyal will have to live through at least once in a lifetime. That becomes a problem when our conscience shows no qualms with it. At this, there is no telling what crimes we are willing to turn a blind eye to simply because we break bread with the perpetrators of those crimes.
In the court of law, it is expected in most criminal cases that the jail term for aiding and abetting be the same as that handed as penalty for the actual criminal activity. This means that a large number of people out there agree that supporting a criminal makes you as much a criminal as he is. Some argue for longer prison sentence for some cases. After all, the devil’s advocate should command greater fear than the devil himself. Both by law and by societal morals, supporting a criminal activity is wrong and that is without emphasizing on the fact that proving loyalty in such a manner, you have chosen to put your freedom, and safety in doubt to protect a friend who is most probably unapologetic about their actions (or else why would they risk their friend’s freedom by permitting the display of loyalty), and probably didn’t give you the chance to talk them out of putting himself (and you too obviously!) in trouble.
In the end friendship is all about being selfless. In legit cases of friendship, this would barely be an issue. In my [not so much] younger days, I spent many nights out in the city with my elder brother and two crazy cousins. We were the perfect posse. Yet whenever one of us got in trouble and another was nearby but not associated with the arrest, he was obliged to deny even knowing the person in trouble. For no special reason except that we concluded it would be easiest for us all if at least one of us was walking free and making efforts to get us out! It was an easy rule to make for us both as young men from one family and a band of comrades.
The truth is an easy thing to sacrifice to save a friend’s skin but we must consider how important our right to self-preservation is to our ‘troubled’ friend. I can’t deny the relief I would feel in knowing that I have someone to look out for me if ever my butt needed saving but asking for that protection when I know I am wrong would be an abuse of his loyalty. I would be asking him to aid me in the blockade of the justice coming my way.
No matter the condition criminals, miscreants, accomplices, all alike will face punishment for their crimes. The real question is “How willing are we to give up our freedom to fight for the freedom of a friend who chose to gamble with theirs and lost?”