Human beings pay lip service to a general admiration of and respect for loyalty and dedication, to unflinching devotion, to commitment to other people, or to ideals, especially in the face of great personal expense. Unfortunately, they have never lived up to these or to any related notions. They have not, by and large, exemplified any of these admirable traits, and even worse, they have neither rewarded nor admired those who actually do live by their nominal virtues.
Oh, they will reliably claim to provide such support and reward. They will vociferously espouse their respect for those who at great cost commit themselves—to a marriage, to a job, to a family, to an ideal—but this so-called respect is worth less than the halitotic air with which it is voiced.
What humans really do to those who embody loyalty is to use them…and, more particularly, to use them up, like conveniently exploited, cheap natural resources. The loyal spouse, the loyal worker…these individuals are taken advantage of and given a pat on the back and encouraged to continue giving their all until they finally keel over and succumb to inevitable exhaustion. Then the user sheds a crocodile tear—or does not even bother to do this much—and moves on to the next disposable fool.
It has always been thus, throughout the history of humanity, and it’s probably true among many other animals as well (though an ethologist could probably shed more light on that supposition than I can). Those who bemoan the laughable notion of some long-lost “good old days” are simply deluded. This—the modern world in which we all find ourselves—is as good as it’s ever been for the human race, and it’s actually better than average, pathetic though that fact may seem.
Humans do not naturally treat each other with justice. They do not treat each other with respect. Instead, their nominal notions of fair play, their desires to, for instance, punish supposed malefactors, are generally born of wounded vanity…and of other such unremarkable, predictable primate behavioral drives.
Humans claim to respect loyalty, yet they lionize serial philanderers, they forget the misdeeds of those who have risen to the top through dishonest means, simply because they have made it to the top. They reward and respect ruthlessness and disloyalty and then they have the temerity to bemoan the fact that those in power are despicable.
They have only themselves to blame. Their politicians, their businessmen, their entertainers…these are simply the people who have most successfully applied the ideals to which most humans actually ascribe, however much they may claim to admire those who have integrity, who have commitment. Loyalty simply makes a person very convenient for others to harness, and the ethos of the loyal person usually keeps minor or nonexistent the cost of the eventual, inevitable betrayal. Loyal, dedicated people do not, by and large, seek revenge. Instead they sigh, they square their shoulders, and they move on, giving their loyalty to yet another undeserving person, purpose, business, or ideal, until the day they finally succumb to exhaustion and receive their only true reward: Oblivion.
Given these facts, it is very probable that the human race—as it is, at least—is doomed. It seems unlikely that the species can endure into actual geological or cosmological time with it current innate ethos intact. It must either change into something so different from its present incarnation that the term “human” would be the most unwarranted of insults, or it will continue to prance about in circles, its horde members screaming their baboon screams, pretending to admire integrity while stabbing each other in the back, until some eventual, inevitable natural catastrophe delivers its inescapable recompense.
In the meantime, the poor, deluded, misguided—but honestly admirable—humans who actually live with integrity will drag the rest of the odious species along, with the damnation of faint praise as their only, occasional reward, until inevitably they fall, one by one, their blood greasing the wheels of the driver-less vehicle which humans have misnamed civilization.