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LOYALTY: "It isn't about dedication and loyalty, it's about belief in what we do."

Movie quote from: The Good Shepherd (2006) - Edward Wilson (Matt Damon)

shepherdIn The Good Shepherd, Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) is a loyal citizen in the secret service of his nation.  As a foreign agent, he gives up traditional life to enter the empty world of espionage.  For Wilson, loyalty is an obligation not a choice.  It is a thankless value that leaves him emotionall numb.  No film has better portrayed the tragic emptiness of unquestioned loyalty.

In some circumstances, loyalty is vastly over-rated.  If loyalty means mindless following, it can be a key contributor to unthinkable atrocities.  If business leaders fill responsible positions with long-term employees rather than the best talent, it assures increasing mediocrity in the organization.  Even in relationships, a sense of loyalty fosters laziness.  No matter if it's politics, professions, or partnerships, it is vital to relate personal decisions to something more meaningful than blind loyalty.   

This is not to say that loyalty is always bad; it is not.  Most of the time, loyalty to a friend or 'something bigger' is an honorable decision.  However, we must never surrender our right to have our own mind.  We must never follow without thinking.  Loyalty must be a daily choice, one made in careful consideration of all things that matter, like team, self, family, friends, and other values. 

Near the end of the film, a barren Wilson must make a decision between his blind loyalty to nation and his traditional value of family.  With no sense of self to work from, he relies on covert actions to split the difference and satisfies neither nation or family.  This is the great tragedy of basing your life on someone or something else's needs - you have no sense of what matters to you.

Loyalty is the ultimate secret service.  The secret is that loyalty is an empty value unless it relates to something of greater personal meaning.  You must believe in what you do.  

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