Loyalty in Amateur Radio
The second clause of the original Amateur's Code reads:
The Amateur is Loyal. He owes his amateur radio to the American Radio Relay League, and he offers it his unswerving loyalty.
The 2022 ARRL handbook presents it with the following words:
The Radio Amateur is LOYAL...offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.
The ARRL website goes the extra mile to make this hard work and states that:
The Radio Amateur is LOYAL...He/[She] offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, the IARU Radio Society in his/[her] country, through which Amateur Radio in his/[her] country is represented nationally and internationally.
Pronouns aside, this has got to be one of the more tortured efforts you might subject an entire group of humans to. Written in an attempt to enumerate each and every specific version of the global amateur radio community, it excludes more than it includes and in doing so completely fails the one thing it aims to achieve, a sense of belonging, being part of something bigger than you.
So what does loyalty look like?
Is providing constructive feedback loyalty? Is giving your time and energy a loyal thing? What about being a member of a club?
The dictionary suggests that loyalty is a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Originally the code suggested that this should be directed at the ARRL, even the handbook continues to suggest that today, but is that relevant for me here in Australia? Should I be a loyal member of the ARRL, or should I be a loyal member of the WIA? What if there is a second body in your country? In Australia there is another organisation attempting to reshape the hobby, RASA, the Radio Amateur Society of Australia, should I be loyal to that? Can I be loyal to both, or neither? What happens if I am not comfortable with either organisation, who should I be loyal to?
National bodies aside, what about clubs? Am I required to be a club member and be loyal to it? What if I'm a member of more than one club? Should I be more loyal to one than the other? Should I be more loyal to the national body or my local club? What if I'm not a member of any club? What should I be loyal to then?
What if loyalty is coupled to an idea instead of a specific body? What might that idea look like? The revised version of the clause already includes concepts such as encouragement and support to other amateurs. What if we just omit any specific bodies and replace it with the idea of the global amateur community in all its many splendored diversity?
While we're looking at this, the word encouragement includes the action of giving someone support, confidence or hope, so we're repeating ourselves by using support and there's plenty of other things we could share around.
Here's a philosophical question to wrap your mind around. If you have a drivers' license, but you don't drive, are you a driver? Similarly, if you have an amateur license, but you don't do anything with it, are you an amateur? Perhaps the nub of this lies in participation.
Taking those thoughts into account, we could rephrase the second clause of the Amateur's Code to:
The Radio Amateur is LOYAL...offering encouragement and participation to the global amateur community.
If this clause was part of the Amateur's Code, would it help you feel like you belonged, would it travel beyond the borders of your country and would you feel part of something bigger?