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Editorial - How loyal are you to the community?

This is an editorial about loyalty.

Most everyone is loyal to their country. Americans, even though they know there's always room for improvement, take pride in living in the greatest country on the globe.

Where loyalty sometimes seems to falter most is within one's own community.

How many times have you heard someone gripe and complain about living where they live? How many people almost seem to be ashamed of saying the name of their home town? How many people don't bother to defend their community when someone else "disses" it? How many people take their business out of the area - and brag about the money they think they've saved? How many people don't attend local government meetings, community events, fundraisers and such, thinking they're a waste of time? How many people would rather invest their money in a fly-by-night operation making false promises instead of supporting a local business that's been part of the community for decades?

The answer: Too many.

Blame it on the Internet, or increasing isolationism, or technology overload, or me-first selfishness, or simply the passing of an era, but people's loyalty to their own community seems to be diminishing. Everything is more global and what's-in-it-for-me these days - less face-to-face, less personal, less "home town."

Business author Frederick Reichheld wrote this about loyalty: "Loyalty is dead, the experts proclaim, and the statistics seem to bear them out. On average, U.S. corporations now lose half their customers in five years, half their employees in four, and half their investors in less than one. We seem to face a future in which the only business relationships will be opportunistic transactions between virtual strangers."

It doesn't have to be that way, of course. People should still take pride in their community. They should feel good about supporting local businesses that have a long track record of helping the community. They should get more involved or at least be more aware of the good things that are happening where they live.

So the next time you hear someone talking trash about your hometown, defend it. When you're considering making a major purchase, give local businesses a shot at it first. When you're wondering where to invest your business dollar, think about exactly whose pockets it will line and what they've done for your community. When you hear about a community event or fundraiser, check it out. When important public meetings arise, chip in your two cents.

Don't let loyalty die. Without it, we'd become a community without the "unity." We'd be nothing more than strangers making opportunistic transactions.