Maybe it's because I spent/d too much time following politics. (Though I am at the point where I can no longer watch cable or network news or read political blogs.) Or maybe it's because I've been binge watching The Good Wife. (It's been a long winter, people. Don't judge.) But lately I've found myself thinking a lot about the question, Which is more important, honesty or loyalty?
If you found out your child or spouse, a close relative, a good friend, or your boss (who controlled your employment/salary), did something wrong, something really wrong, as in illegal, or not illegal but something bad, something that would or could have serious consequences for this person (and possibly you, too), would you:
A) Seek out or verify the facts in the matter and if you discovered the bad thing was indeed true not shield or lie for this person but tell the truth, if called upon to do so (i.e., put honesty over loyalty).
B) Seek out or verify the facts and if you discovered the bad thing was indeed true shield or lie for this person (i.e., put loyalty over honesty).
C) Immediately refute any charges of wrong-doing, regardless of the facts, and defend your family member, friend, or boss (i.e., not even consider the facts for a minute; loyalty is more important than the truth).
Would the nature of the crime or wrong-doing make a difference? What if you found out your spouse sexually harassed an employee? Or your child bullied another child? Or your friend stole something?
I'm pretty firmly in the A camp -- honesty over loyalty. I try not to jump to conclusions but seek out the facts. And if the facts say that someone was wrong, I won't lie for them -- which has cost me many friends over the years and a couple of jobs. (We tell our children to tell the truth, but no one likes -- or wants to believe -- a whistleblower.)
Case in point: When I was in sixth grade, I spoke out against a bully, who at the time was one of my best friends. This girl took pleasure in bad-mouthing this one girl, who would let the bully say whatever she wanted, even if it was a lie. Ironically, this girl seemed to adore the bully, even though the bully made her cry. One day, I was asked to pile on the bullied girl -- and refused. I went even further, telling off the bully. The result? The girl I defended started to bully me, along with the bully, and I had no friends the rest of sixth grade.
I would do the same thing -- tell off a bully or abuser -- again, and have. (And have almost always met with the same result.) But I understand why so many kids -- and adults -- keep quiet.