I heard a news story earlier this week which has really made me think about a few things. Some guy in Jozi had his car stolen during the recent long weekend (actually I’m pretty sure many guys had their cars stolen in Jozi during that time, but let’s just talk about this one guy in particular). A couple of days after the car had been taken, a good friend of his found himself driving behind his friend’s stolen car and, recognising it and knowing that it had been stolen, he decided to followed it. When the driver parked and went in to grab some chicken from Nando’s (as one does when cruising the streets in a stolen car), the friend followed him in and confronted him about the stolen car. The thief made a run for it, gunning it down Corlett Drive, with the friend hot on his heels. The friend then whips out a pistol and caps the thief in his ass.
Obviously, that was the end of the thief’s getaway, the cops arrived shortly afterwards and arrested him for theft and returned the car to its rightful owner. The cops apparently decided not to press charges against the friend as, in their opinion, he was “correcting a crime”. I’ve never heard of such a defense in South African law, but it’s a pretty cool justification and, well, there’s a first time for everything.
Clearly, things didn’t go as planned for the thief… he had stopped for chicken and ended up being shot in the bum. Not really the way he had expected the evening to go down I’m sure. And the reason things turned out the way they did was because of loyalty, loyalty that the friend had to the owner of the car. It made me think about loyalty generally and, more specifically, about whether I would shoot someone in the ass for a friend and whether a friend would do the same for me.
I often think that we’re not as loyal as the generations before us were and that the moral virtue of loyalty is swiftly on the decrease. Studies have shown that the so-called Generation Y, being those of us born between 1977 and 1994, have significantly less brand loyalty than every generation before us, to which I think, “Well, who cares about brand loyalty anyway? By the time I’ve finished a tube of toothpaste, I’m so over its taste that there’s no way I’m gonna buy the same one again… well, not until I’ve forgotten its taste anyway”. The same goes for shower gel, colours of nail polish and a lot of other stuff in my life.
Brand loyalty aside, in the early 20th century, loyalty was defined as people swearing “allegiance to the sovereign or established government of one’s country” and “personal devotion and reverence to the sovereign and royal basterd”. That was when they were all Braveheart-ish and stuff. Well, I for one can’t be involved in swearing allegiance to any sovereign. In fact, I’d eagerly topple the said sovereign if he stole money, sucked at his job and treated his people badly. Such is the age of democracy – just ask the people of Syria who are clearly sick and tired of this whole sovereign business. And, besides, WTF is the royal basterd?
My concern is really whether, as a generation, although we may value loyalty, we don’t step up and practice it enough in our everyday lives. Here I’m not referring to brand loyalty or sovereign loyalty, but loyalty to our friends and family, who are our earliest and psychologically strongest loyalties. It seems as though today loyalty is more the exception than the rule and that I’m a fool for placing such importance on it. Indeed, grand gestures of loyalty are so infrequent that the car story made headline news… although maybe that was because of the whole shooting in the ass thing. Just maybe.
By definition, loyalty is a value that we are to practise in our lives in order for us to have loyalty to others. It is by our actions that our loyalty is measured. Let’s keep loyalty alive and practise it in our everyday lives, showing our friends and family how much we value them. I’m not saying you should buy a gun and cap someone in order to prove your loyalty for a friend, but let’s love and value each other more and step up when those close to us need someone to have their back.