On Friday I was watching Oprah Winfrey. I NEVER watch her show, but she was interviewing Tom Cruise and it was supposed to be an interview that talked about all the controversial subjects: chair jumping, Scientology, his Brooke Shields comment, the Matt Lauer interview, Nicole...the works. It was an interesting interview, but I guess the question that I took away from it was her asking him what he valued in a friend. The most important trait he said was "loyalty". I've thought a great deal about that comment over the last 24 hours.
What does loyalty really mean? The dictionary defines it as: unwavering devotion; commitment to a promise; a firm ally. Some synonyms are: faithful, steadfast, abiding, devoted. I wonder how many of us can say that we possess that quality in our friendships?
It's understandable why Tom Cruise looks for that trait. His confidence cannot be betrayed. The papparazzi is always looking for someone to provide information related to him and his family. Loyalty to a promise of secrecy is paramount. When his family is attacked in the press, he needs that firm ally to stand on his side and defend his integrity and his honor.
But does the average person really require that level of loyalty? Absolutely. We all have personal and private things we share with our close friends. Things we have told no one else. A loyal friend will not betray that trust. Many times we are attacked by others. A loyal friend will always stand on our side and defend us when we are maliciously maligned or attacked. A loyal friend rejoices in the good times and empathizes when you are in pain or hurting. A loyal friend hangs in there during those inevitable disagreements and works through to find a resolution.
I'd say that Tom was right. Loyalty is the most important quality you need in a friend.