Wednesday, 25 April 2012
It's easy enough when someone's done something a bit disturbing but of no great consequence. You can turn a blind eye and say, I'm not comfortable with that but what the hell, it's not worth picking a fight over it.
If your partner fiddles their expenses or tells someone they're stupid or keeps flirting with the neighbour, it's not hard to shrug it off as human weakness, remember you've sometimes done the same, and keep the criticism muted.
But if it's something more extreme - they've done a hit-and-run, or they're a workplace bully - do you still find ways of justifying it, or do you unflinchingly condemn them? Where do you draw the line between excusable everyday behaviour and something that's beyond the pale?
I'm always aghast at those people who'll defend their kids/spouses/siblings against the most appalling accusations of fraud, murder or thuggery and insist on their innocence despite everything, forever valuing personal loyalty over other people's interests. Their loved ones can do no wrong and other people are mean, nasty liars.
Women of course were traditionally loyal to their husbands (read slavishly submissive) however vile their behaviour, but thankfully that's a dying attitude and men can get away with a lot less than they used to.
But the people I really admire, on the other hand, are the ones who stand by partners who've done something highly principled but unpopular, like going on strike, and aren't intimidated by all the hostility. No way will they side with the critics for the sake of an easy life.
When I was once in dispute with a workplace manager over a (quite untypical) instance of poor timekeeping, I expected some loyalty from my workmates, especially as we were all in a trade union, but the non-committal and evasive silences were upsetting to say the least. One case where loyalty didn't stretch very far.