A better word than loyalty?

I know exactly what the theme of my fifth novel is, but I can’t find a word for it and I’m even having trouble finding a phrase to describe it. In my mind, it sits across the circle, and the color wheel, from the bright orange joy of being yourself and doing your thing and enjoying your life. That’s a wonderful concept, but we all know that there is another side.

There is the runner in a race who pauses to help another up. There are the first responders charging into a burning building and the social worker who stays after hours to see that a few more will get what they need. There are the soldiers who serve, and the elderly who look out for the others in a retirement facility. There is anyone who stops their own pursuit of happiness long enough to tend to the greater good.

I’m not talking about compassion or empathy. Those are important and wonderful, but they are a one-on-one phenomena. I’m trying to describe a sense of duty or honor that transcends a single interaction or one other person.  At various times I’ve called it concern, responsibility, duty, honor and loyalty. I know that it involves ministering to, caring for, serving and protecting all who need it. It’s about doing what needs to be done.

I realize that what I’m trying to describe is not a fun concept, but it is one that matters. We all know in our hearts that there is a time to do what’s right for everyone, not just you.

When I  came up with the word loyalty, I was sure that I did not mean loyalty to ones nation or family or hometown. That got me thinking. Loyalty to what? I finally realized that what I was trying to describe was a sense of commitment to humanity in general. That really is what d4 is about. Commitment to our mutual survival as a species.

No. We don’t seem to have a word for that, or even a good phrase for it. At least not yet. Given how things are going, I think we really need one.

(For more thoughts on words we need, see A better word than peace?, A better word than joy?, A better word than hope? and A better word than courage?)

 

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Seeking the Heart of the Song

I’m getting d4 ready for publication at Smashwords.com. This always takes longer than I think it will. The formatting requirements are more rigorous than those at Amazon.com and with my first three books I gave up and had a very nice people at Stunning Books handle the formatting for me. It was money well spent, to be honest, but I’m a stubborn sort and I was determined to learn to do it myself eventually.

Ellie GouldingThe other issue with Smashwords is checking the links, and removing any that Smashwords affiliates will not allow. Usually forbidden links involve direct connections to other booksellers such as Amazon. This is a problem for me because the electronic versions of all of my novels contain references to nine songs, intended to be a sort of soundtrack featuring some of the favorite music of the main character in the novel.  When I publish the books on Kindle, I insert a link to the Amazon.com location where my readers can listen to the music. At Smashwords, this link has to go.

I’ve experimented with other solutions. I want my readers to appreciate and possibly buy music from these artists and I am mentioning the songs in my book because I really like them. For my first novels, I had the Smashwords link take the reader to a webpage or at least a good fan page for that musician. When I ran into problems finding suitable links for some, I tried connecting to a performance of the song on You Tube.

With d4 I’ve taken this a step further. For each of the songs, I’ve tried to find a live performance that I think shows a little of a the personality of the singer and the band. I’ve had a lot of fun seeking these out. Often the quality isn’t as good as the more glossy clips, but I’ve picked each video for a reason. I just love Ellie Goulding’s very human introduction to her song “Lights” at Coachella 2014. Hopefully you will too. An excerpt from the book follows.

The work portion of the trip would all be at the end, so Ariel tried to enjoy the beginning of her little vacation. She packed a few good books and her warmest clothes, and delighted in a window seat as she watched the late afternoon sun set on her way into Iceland. She found a favorite song on her mp3 player and listened to the pretty shimmer of Ellie Goulding’s voice singing “Lights” as the giant Vatnajökull glacier gleamed beneath her when the plane dipped below the clouds. Ariel thought that perhaps she had never seen anything so beautiful as the various shades of blues that glistened off of the ice in the light of a sun moving low in the winter sky while the song played softly in her mind.

She joined her group at the Reykjavik airport for the evening flight on to Nuuk. The small band of mostly Icelandic travelers was quiet, but friendly, and she felt thankful to live in both a time and place where a woman could easily travel alone. Nuuk was just a quick stopover, and the next morning they boarded the pint-sized plane for Ilulissat, the main tourist destination in Greenland.

Ariel stepped off the plane to her first view of the barren rocks mottled with bright colored lichens that make up the tundra. She had never set foot inside of the Arctic Circle before. Tiny flickers and flashes erupted as her boot touched the ground.

My premonitions are stronger here, she noticed with surprise. The cold dry air? The earth’s magnetic field? There had to be a reason. She added it to her list of things to try to figure out later.

The fact is that I started each of my novels off with a special song. Click to read about x0’s “Time After Time“, y1’s “A Whole New World“, z2’s “Fame“, and c3’s “A Texas Kind of Way“.