“Look. You don’t have to wait anymore. He’s not coming back”.
These words are spoken in the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Story by the station master to Hachi, a loyal dog waiting steadfastly every day for his deceased master to return home. If Hachi the dog could understand the words, he certainly refused to listen to him as he continued to position himself at the station for more than nine years – until he died.
I watched the movie a couple of days ago and as anticipated, I was teary – just because I correlated the story with so many other things that just made me weep. The movie tells a fictionalised true story which originally took place in Japan, where a dog called Hachiko waited patiently for his deceased master for nearly ten years. The movie changes the setting to the United States, but it doesn’t change the essence of the story.
I correlate it with my faith journey – where many people directly or indirectly question me why I still hold on to my faith in God. “He is not coming back – that is if He truly existed in the first place”. I refuse to listen to those questions and want to doggedly hold on to my faith – or if you prefer – to my loyalty in God. However, even now loyalty is even considered an antiquity.
I remember many years ago in Jakarta, Indonesia – where a certain Vice President suddenly rendered his resignation and there were rumours that he was forced to go by the unseen hands. His departure brought a lot of discomfort in the division as he had built his career in the company and that he was quite well respected by the staff. After much murmuring, the Country Business Manager summoned our department, as the department that was the closest linked with the deposed Vice President’s area. The Country Business Manager wanted to hear our concerns — and after a long period of awkward silence, and after a couple of stock standard questions by the Department’s Director, to which the Country Business Manager also duly answered in a standard manner, I steeled myself to air my concern. I said, “His sudden departure sends a signal to us that the company doesn’t value loyalty.” I could remember the Director’s reaction – after a shared snigger with the Country Business Manager, these words were spoken, “Loyalty? Who cares about loyalty anymore?”.
Thesedays, people work for two years in an organisation, on average – not based on any statistics – just based on generally acceptable length of time. If you stay for too long in the company, they say that you may lose your edge, your freshness; you will not expand your horizon. Loyalty to the organisation is not even uttered in such a decision.
Loyalty is also not something that people consider thesedays in their relationships. Mingling with a lot of students in my social life, I hear many stories where long-distance relationships crash and burn, just because one party cannot hold on to their part of the commitment at the end. A relationship that has been built for years beforehand implodes when the guy or the girl leaves to study in Adelaide. They realise that it is so difficult to keep the love and affection burning when there are people who are so enticing nearby. They find that the convenience of having another person physically close far outweighs the love across the waters.
You may argue that I shouldn’t really blame the person who breaks off the relationship – that they just need somebody close by to care. Maybe they start to feel that their partner far away are slowly becoming alien to them. Hang on, then what about their commitment and loyalty? All those years of relationship building? Even in this sad story I can find the parallel with my journey of faith.
Can I hold on to my commitment and loyalty towards God, who is not physically close – when I am continously enticed to replace Him with something tangible or even logical? There are other things in life that seem as precious to hold on to, in lieu of my faith in God. In a tiny way, it is quite similar to a long distance relationship … the local ‘close friend’ can seem so caring, so endearing, so loving – and so close – compared to the faithful partner who is so far away who doesn’t seem to care as much – when in fact he or she cares deeply.
Loyalty just doesn’t mean a thing thesedays. It has been trivialised by rewards points and loyalty cards.
I personally still value loyalty – and unless my trust is broken – I will hold on and uphold it. Like a loyal dog I will defend my friends if I trust that they are in the right, and like a loyal dog I will patiently wait until my Master returns.
I just wish that more would behave similarly.