Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Hard Look at Loyalty -- -- thinking point

Philip Meynard Flammer. Burial Place: Orem, Utah, United States. Birth: 20 June 1928. Death: 20 August 1999 He was a professor I learned from, a friend and a personal reference.
The problem of misused and abused loyalty will never go away.  The motivations for its deliberate distortion are too self-serving to be neglected by those willing and able to use it.  Still, the concept deserves a hard look if only because those who misuse it are more than a little anxious to keep it from the light.  Also, to a degree, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.  (Would we not have been better children had we understood the tendency and consequences of particular children being singled out for senseless persecution?)  Finally, we do well to remind ourselves that loyalty is a two-edged sword.  In the words of Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart:

Loyalty is a noble quality, so long as it does not blind and does not exclude the higher loyalty to truth and decency.  But the word is much abused, for ‘loyalty’ analyzed, is too often a polite word for what would be more accurately described as a ‘conspiracy for mutual inefficiency.’  In this sense, it is essentially selfish—like a servile loyalty, demeaning to both master and servant.  They are in false relationship to each other, and the loyalty which is then so much prized can be traced, if we probe deep enough, to an ultimate selfishness on either side.  ‘Loyalty’ is not a quality we can isolate: so far as it is real, and of intrinsic value, it is implicit in the possession of other virtues.

For those to whom personal integrity and depth of character are not important, loyalty will always be an attractive method of exploitation.  However, there are options open to those who reject their exploitation in the name of “loyalty.”  One is to preempt the dilemma early on, letting the would-be exploiter know either explicitly or implicitly that he or she is not open to such manipulation.  History provides numerous instances of this preemption by secure individuals with depth of character.  General George C. Marshall is an eminent example.  Unexploitable, he did not exploit, even when he had the power to strike back at men like Douglas MacArthur who disliked him, resented his integrity, and earlier hindered his advancement.  Another instance, centuries past, involves a missionary in a hostile land who impressed a difficult and troublesome king with his dedication and courage.  Because of the circumstances leading to their acquaintance, the kind would have accepted the missionary as a man with magical if not divine powers.  The missionary, however, insisted that he was an ordinary man and stunned the king by offering to be his servant, albeit with one important condition.  “Whatever you ask of me that is right,” he said, “that will I do.”      

Read the entire essay.  Philip Flammer is dead, but he left a legacy of honor and loyalty where it mattered.

Professor Flammer understood courage and truth.

His obituary is true, in a way that many only aspire to be:

Philip M. Flammer

A wonderful man, Philip M. Flammer, passed away Aug. 20, 1999, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

He was born June 20, 1928, in St. Johns, Ariz., to Hans and Arizona Gibbons Flammer. In 1943, the family moved to Logan, Utah. He married Mildred May Wehrwein July 13, 1954, in the Logan LDS Temple.

He was an active member of the LDS Church. He served in the Swiss Austrian mission, where he met Mildred. He later served three stake missions and served as a branch president and bishop.
Phil received his bachelor's degree from Utah State University, his master's from George Washington and his doctorate from Yale. He retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel after serving as a pilot and professor at the Air Force Academy. He taught history at Brigham Young University and was professor of the year in 1976.

Above all, Phil's greatest joy was teaching, both the gospel and academics. He was loved and appreciated by all who knew him. He was able to see a need and reach out to touch the lives of others spiritually, physically and academically. A blessing Phil received assured him that if he was willing to entertain strangers, he would entertain angels unawares. He acted on that assurance and treated strangers is if they were indeed angels. He was truly a disciple of Jesus Christ in every aspect of his life. He is deeply loved by his family.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred; his children, Matthew Flammer, Julie (James) Parkin, Tracy (Michael) Call, and Lisa (Robert) Anderson. He is also survived by two brothers, Gordon (Luen) Flammer and Stephen (Shauna) Flammer, and four sisters, Regina (Marlin) Fairbourn, Corolie (LeRoy) Hoefler, Mary (John) Tallmadge and Diane Flammer.
I am still learning from the lessons he taught me.

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