by: Jay Ackley
May 12, 2020

In his work, The Philosophy of Loyalty (New York: Macmillan Co., 1908), p. 57, American philosopher, Josiah Royce, wrote: 

Loyalty is for the loyal man not only a good, but for him the chief amongst all the moral goods of his life, because it furnishes . . . him a personal solution [to] the hardest of [all] human . . . problems, the problem: “For what do I live?” 

When I was 10, my dad (ESFP) took my brother, sister and me camping to Blue Rock State Park in southeastern Ohio.  I want to say it was Memorial Day weekend, and I remember Dad had rented a pop-up camper.  High living for us.  Our site was special being it was closest to the lake for swimming, next to a trailhead for hiking, and had on one side a small creek where we hunted for crawdads under the rocks.


As Dad was preparing a fire for dinner, a car drove up and parked.  The driver was female, tall, dark hair and eyes, and…  Long story short, she was my dad’s new fiancé. This weekend of camping was his plan, their plan, to introduce her to his children as their new stepmother.  And it wasn’t just having her come to camp with us that was the plan.  It was that my father went home that evening “to take a quick shower” and not to come back until the next morning.  He left us with her for the night without warning (or notice to mom) thinking it a great way for us to bond. 


Despite the strange introduction, we grew to appreciate the woman and developed a continuing friendship with her son.  Criticisms soften as one understands why people are in the situations they are.  We still bear responsibility for our station in life, yet none of us can escape events over which we have no control, events that often leave lifelong impacts.


Last night my former partner (ESTJ), invited me and a couple of mutual friends to dinner.  The restaurant was local Greek, nothing formal, but a friendly place for the opportunity to catchup.  I was early, the last to arrive, or so I thought.  As I turned to get in line to order, I was told we were waiting for one other person to join us.  It was my former partner’s new partner.  None of us knew he was coming, but it was my partner’s plan, their plan, to introduce him to everyone in this way, unannounced and by surprise.  Déjà vu all over again.


Both events were disrespectful when there was no need.  Did my father question the love (loyalty?) of his three young children to this degree?  And had not this circle of friends proven ourselves loyal to and supportive of my ex-partner long ago? 


It’s odd that the same plan of action came from these two distinct people.  Yet, in considering their personalities, some clarity forms why.  For both my ESFP father and ESTJ ex-partner, Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is low on their awareness level.  My father with his Fe Critic was certain in his own goodness and decency but sometimes minimized and disregarded the feelings of others (my mother crying at every episode of “Lassie” for example).  My ex-partner?  Well, Fe Demon…


In Dad’s case, he feared his future (Introverted Intuition [Ni] Inferior) and the impact his decisions could have upon it.  He relied on others to inform him of right and wrong from the standpoints of both reason (Introverted Thinking [Ti] Trickster) and ethics (Fe Critic).  In my ex’s case, the motivation was his uncertainty about his own self-worth (Introverted Feeling [Fi] Inferior) coupled with his worry about making correct decisions (Ti Nemesis). 


Regardless, both events smacked of forcing acceptance of the new relationships, manipulation.  A more respectful approach, perhaps one centered in the practical application of typology (social engineering), would have taken into consideration the personalities of all involved. Allowing the new relationships to develop organically and bloom or die depending on interpersonal compatibility and desire for relationship would seem a better, more honest option.  Yet in both cases, fear and worry sacrificed quality for expedience. 


This morning I went through old clothes, books, even the medicine cabinet disposing with abandon items I have had for years. Items that not necessarily reminded me of my ex, but items that I possessed then and still do now.  Funny that at some level a can of “Off” insect repellant can become an unwanted totem.  Only after a moment of introspection, though, did I realize I was amid a door slam, a “soft” one, but a slam nonetheless, and I didn’t want that.  Post-relationship relationships are important to me, at least for those where shared experiences and love have given significant meaning to my life.


With dad, the camping trip was the beginning of a tumultuous relationship that would last through my adolescence with extended periods of not speaking to each other.  We grew closer in my 20s, but he passed before we really could know each other.  With my former partner, our relationship continues to be good and mutually supportive, something that I will not allow a moment of poor judgment to disrupt.  Life is too short.


It is true that all human interaction is manipulation.  Even in saying “hello” to a neighbor, we seek to elicit a response.  Unfortunately, the term carries a negative connotation, and I have used it in that context here.  “Social Engineering” sounds more scientific and objective, less deceitful, yet the two are synonyms.  A difference could be sophistication of execution.  Still, the underlying intent makes each positive or negative. 


The power of typology is not harnessed in the internal exploration of our own personality, though that’s a start.   No, its real strength for driving change is in its application in human relationships.  Social engineering with pureness of intent is respectful and helpful.  It can build and strengthen relationships and protect us from those who would do us harm.  That pureness of intent is in loyalty, in the answer to Josiah Royce’s question, “For what do I live?”


Jay Ackley

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