“Let us be true: this is the highest maxim of art and of life, the secret of eloquence and of virtue, and of all moral authority” (Henri-Frédéric Amiel).

FIDELITY MEANS FAITHFULNESS, AND IT’S ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TRAITS WE CAN HAVE. On the other hand, to be guilty of infidelity is to be guilty of a crime as serious as any that can be committed. And while we usually think of marriage when we hear these words, their significance is not limited to marriage. In every department of life, it’s important to maintain fidelity.

As we might guess from their spelling, the words “truth” and “trust” are closely linked. In the end, it is always truth that begets trust. When we tell the truth, others come to trust us — they come to expect a high degree of fidelity, or faithfulness, between our words and reality. So in all things, as Amiel says, “Let us be true.”

There is an old maxim that says, “Personality may open doors, but it takes character to keep them open.” We may dazzle others with our ability to make a positive impression in the short term, but without the character trait of fidelity, the long term will probably reveal a striking number of broken relationships, relationships that sizzled for a while . . . but later fizzled when the need for fidelity arose.

Fidelity requires a strength not possessed by everyone. Everyone could possess it, of course, but not all have made that choice. Not all have decided to make commitment-keeping a part of their basic character. But those who’ve disciplined themselves to do so enjoy one of life’s most important strengths: “To be capable of steady friendship or lasting love are the two greatest proofs, not only of goodness of heart, but of strength of mind” (William Hazlitt). Fidelity is not silly or sentimental by any means; it is a quality of strength and stability.

But if fidelity is the measure of a strong mind, it’s also the measure of a loving heart. Ultimately, the kind of love we all want to give and to get is the love that holds up in the face of difficulty and keeps the commitments it has made. This is the kind of love — the kind that is “true” in the sense that it can be “trusted” — that warms us, sustains us, and motivates our very best work in the world.

“We should measure affection, not like youngsters by the ardor of its passion, but by its strength and constancy” (Cicero).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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