Loyalty, Generousity, or Honesty?

Loyalty, generosity or honesty…..which is more important?  I laid here thinking about this and thought wow, what a serious question this is. What do you want in a friend? Which one means more to you.

I can only tell you which means more to me and that is honesty first, then loyalty and generosity.  I read a short story by O’ Henry and it is called “After Twenty Years”. You can read the whole story here:


It says a lot to me because it tells when honesty is more important than loyalty. It is about two men who agree to meet twenty years later. In the story, a policeman sees a man leaning against the wall and walks up to him.

“The man in the doorway struck a match and lit his cigar. The light showed a pale, square-jawed face with keen eyes, and a little white scar near his right eyebrow. His scarf pin was a large diamond, oddly set.”

The man told the cop not to worry, that he was waiting to meet a friend from twenty years ago. They had promised to meet twenty years later. The man and the cop carried on a conversation and the man told the cop all about his friend. The policeman told the man that he hoped that his friend showed up soon and he walked on around the corner.

The man was leaning against the wall watching when a man walked up and started talking to him.  The lights were dim and the man leaning against the wall thought it was his old friend. They talked a minute before the first man realized that this was not his long-lost friend. The man was an undercover cop and informed him that he was and had been under arrest for ten minutes.

The police department from Chicago had sent out flyers to all the police departments asking them to pick up “silky Bob” who was a criminal and wanted. Before the policeman took him away, he told the man that was “silky Bob” that the cop that had talked to him earlier sent him a note and handed it to the man.

~”Bob: I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the match to light your cigar I saw it was the face of the man wanted in Chicago. Somehow I couldn’t do it myself, so I went around and got a plain clothes man to do the job. JIMMY.”

The policeman had a choice. He could be “loyal”…the kind of loyalty some friends want you to be, which is to stand by them and agree with them even when they are doing something wrong or illegal or he could be honest and live up to the code of his job and his heart. One may affect a friendship but the other affects your very soul and character.  Though he struggled, he decided honesty was more important. And I am sure that is because then he could live with his conscience.

We may make people…friends, family..loved ones…angry when we do not agree with them and when we tell them that what they are doing is wrong..but if we are doing it because we are being honest…then we are doing the right thing. I have made people mad before because I would not agree with them doing something illegal or wrong and I have lost so-called friends because of that. But, I truly believe that if we love someone…if we really love them…we tell them the truth and we do not stand up and agree with them just because we do not want to make them mad or lose their friendship or love.

I have told my sons that I will not support them doing anything illegal, etc but that I will stand by them and be with them as they face whatever the consequences are of their actions. That is loyalty to me. Out of honesty, I can not support illegal and immoral actions but out of loyalty, I will not stop loving them or being there for them. That is the difference in honesty and loyalty to me.

Which is more important to you?  Loyalty, generosity or Honesty?  Very thought provoking question, isn’t it.