Of loyalty and of love which is greater in a relationship? Can two be bound together whether by the handsfasting of the goddess or by the vow of the State or under God's authority and truly operate without both? Is one more important than the other and if so, which is subservient - and perhaps more importantly - why?
Surely there are as many reasons to bind together with another as there are people in which to bind, both within and outside the sociological urge to belong. A sense of individualism often will only stand out once enveloped by others, lest there be nothing in which to compare it - so therefore are the natural order of things to those who keep track. And while the imagination fires at the ideas and conceptions behind true or romantic love, that during times of great peace or great war, great fortune or great disaster, loyalty might do better to prevail over it for reasons of sheer practicality alone. Or does greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends?
If love is defined as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person1 and loyalty as faithfulness to commitments or obligations.2 then in any relationship both surely must be present as the yin & yang, the ebb & tide of give & take. While ideally true love is surely as selfless and as pure as the driven snow, a Rayndian might suggest that one cannot fully devote to another without their own needs first being met. Which then shall be the more just of the two if one shall suffer?
The devotion of the loyal man involves a sort of restraint or submission of his natural desires to his cause. Loyalty without self-control is impossible.3 To what cause then does the loyal man apply his devotion? If its love for love's sake than the cause is already lost, for to have love without loyalty seems as meaningless as loyalty without love. Surely one without the other would create a very different society than the one in which has already burst forth.
If a man does not truly love what he is loyal to, that loyalty can be supplanted, overtaken; outbid. And if man is not loyal to what he truly loves, that love can wane. Loyalty is there to remind those in love why they've committed when it would be easier to forget, and the love is there to draw forth and comfort when the loyalty is not required. Loyalty strengthens love, and love strengthens loyalty. Remove either one, and the other shall surely perish. Bolster them both, and peace and trust will blossom, chasing away their bane.
I have met many people in my 40+ years, across many different continents. Many I can't even recall their faces - some not their names. Others I see on Facebook. They're different now; I'm different now. But what was experienced at the time of our connection was perfect in its harmony, like a well choreographed ballet. A flash, an exchange of ideas - a friendship. Some of my friendships were born out of my own necessity, a need for a friend, a confidant, knowledge, admiration, experience - just as I have selflessly fulfilled that role for others when it was I who was sought out. But these experiences in our lives, these friendships - they are as fluid and as fleeting as the waves.
I've enjoyed immensely each bond I've forged with others, even it was but for a time. If you think of friendships as immeasurably important moments in time it will help free you both when and if the time comes. There are people I hold near and dear to my heart, my mind, and my soul - and some of these same people I've only known a day, or a week, or a month. I have no expectation of maintaining indefinitely and/or reconnecting at that level a'la Facebook-style communique, but that does not diminish what was one iota. I've learned that we all grow at different rates, and pursue different goals. I've also learned that that's okay.
If you look at every relationship as a point-in-time occurrence, you can really appreciate what has been, rather than bemoaning what was.
Yes I have friends who have outlasted all others. It would be statistically impossible otherwise.
"If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone." ~ Samuel Johnson
To all my friends, both real and imagined, past, present and future - Thank you.
1 - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/love
2 - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/loyalty
3 - "The Philosophy of Loyalty" by Josiah Royce, pg 19