“No matter what will be ruined, we’d never sell out our friends!”
– Master Cat Viper, One Piece
Episode 767, “A Volatile Situation! The Dog and the Cat and the Samurai”
This quote comes from one of my most favorite moments in anime, and one of the most epic as well.
Going into the particulars of this scene and this quote would be both long, detailed, and filled with spoilers. Suffice to say, Master Cat Viper, as he’s called, knows exactly what he speaks of.
He is a leader among his people. They were recently attacked by an evil, amoral, destructive enemy. The conflict reduced their beloved city, a thousand years old, to rubble and ruin, and its conclusion would have resulted in most of their deaths if not for the intervention of fate and extremely good fortune. All of this was done because their enemy was searching for someone, a man, which the enemy believed to be among them. The people, every one, and especially their leaders constantly denied any knowledge of this, even at great personal cost and agony.
Here’s the amazing thing: he was there, and they knew it.
When this is revealed to the series’ main protagonists, they are struck dumb with awe and respect. Tears flow as they realize, every last man, woman, and child among these people had lied. They protected this man, their friend. Their ancient, beautiful city was ruined. They all almost died, and would have if not for the intervention of fate and really good fortune. And still, they held true.
When Master Cat Viper says these words, he’s not speaking metaphorically. He and his people have already put their bodies where their mouths are. They are nothing if not loyal.
As I think about this, I think about civilization. Some people say the foundation of human society is power, or knowledge, or law, or any number of things. I say that the true foundation of civilization is the ties that bind. Family, friendship, honor, loyalty, love, these are the virtues that make a people strong. Cast them aside, and you weaken not only yourself but all of humanity in turn.
Just think, if everyone in the world had such loyalty towards each other, would not the world be a better place?
I certainly know this: to see loyalty like this in others makes me want to be loyal to them, and woe to any who would do them harm.