It may occur to you that it is too much to ask that self-respecting men should fall down and grovel in the dirt at the feet of every selfish dollar-chasing employer. Nothing of the sort is expected. A loyal man can not only stand up straight, but he can stand just a little straighter than any one else, for no one so much as he has the mind conscious of rectitude.
You may fairly ask what is to become of loyalty when the conditions make it impossible. One always has a remedy in his own hands: he can quit, and carry with him a gentleman's self-respect, for without that there can be no loyalty worthy of the name.
There are certain things that loyalty does not demand of us. For example, it does not require us, in being loyal to one person, to be disloyal to others. Environment and education often lead us to look at things differently, and honest men may conscientiously differ, but we are bound to respect the attitude of other people, or as Professor Royce puts it, to be loyal to the loyalty of others.
Again, loyalty should not lead us into excesses that work wrong to others. It is a common misconception of loyalty to imagine that one must back his personal friend for anything and everything he happens to want, regardless of whether he is fit for it, and regardless of the rights of others. It is unnecessary to say that such an attitude is not tenable. Loyalty to the principles of justice and right will not permit that sort of thing.
But there are usually two parties to loyalty, especially in matters of employment and in all organizations where there are superior officers under their various titles or wherever the personal element enters. It can not all be on the side of the employee or of the subordinate. The employer, the head of the firm, the superior officer and the organization itself owes loyalty to employees, to partners and to colleagues. And it is this loyalty to each other that constitutes esprit de corps, that enables organizations to pull together, to work to a common end, to act in concert, to stand together in all things and to one big purpose. Moreover, those who expect loyalty are bound by every sense of decency and propriety to be worthy of loyalty, and to be loyal in return to those of whom loyalty is expected; that is a sine qua non. No one can long be loyal to a man who backbites, belittles or sneers at his employees or his colleagues behind their backs.
And what I say of loyalty is true not only here among us, in our own community, in our own country, and in our own time, but it is equally true of every quarter of the globe and of every age.
In commending loyalty to you I am not raising any questions about right and wrong. And even if I should raise such questions, there are, as Professor Royce points out, conflicting loyalties. I suspect that loyalty, like love, is blind. Who, when he sees his brother attacked,