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Let me start with a question: what do you want to be when you grow up?
I’m guessing that typical answers might be happy, or successful perhaps. Maybe you’d like to have a family, have a fulfilling career, travel the world or develop a particular skill or craft.
I imagine that no one said that when they grow up, they’d like to be loyal.
Loyalty doesn’t exactly register high on our list of top ten hopes and dreams for our lives. We might hope for loyalty in other people, particularly when it comes to the people close to us, but don’t exactly ponder on whether or not we are developing this particular trait in our lives.You can’t see loyalty, and it certainly isn’t immediately big and impressive. And yet there is something extraordinarily beautiful about a life lived loyally to another person, or group of people.
Let me tell you a true story of one such beautiful example of loyalty, involving a dog called Hachiko.
In the 1920s, in Tokyo, there was a professor called Hidesaburō Ueno. The professor had a golden brown dog called Hachiko. Every day the professor would walk to the train station with his dog Hachiko, and catch the train to the university. At the end of each day his dog Hachiko would greet him at the station, and they would walk home together. The pair continued their daily routine until the May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Each day for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachikō awaited Ueno's return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.
Hachiko became renowned in his area as the loyal dog at the train station each day, and is remembered across the world and to this day because of his faithfulness to his owner.
Now I know this is only a story about a dog, but I cant help but feel that we’ve got a thing or two to learn from Hachiko.
We may not value loyalty or faithfulness in our culture, or think much about it as a quality we want to develop or seek in others – but it stands the test of time; unlike our own happiness, success or wealth, loyalty and faithfulness are qualities and gifts that impact those around us, and resonate down the centuries.
I’ll end with a great verse form Proverbs, in the Bible:
‘Never let go of loyalty and faithfulness. Tie them around your neck; write them on your heart.’ Proverbs, The Bible
Phoebe is the Head of Research at Youthscape, responsible for leading The Youthscape Centre for Research. Research is at the heart of the innovation process here at Youthscape, and on a local level this means responding to the needs of young people identified by Youthscape's youth work practitioners, and developing strategies to meet those needs.