We can still recall from our childhood City summers, seeing long strips of yellow sticky paper, vertically hung, in grocery stores and other small retail establishments, slowly undulating, in response to the weak breeze emanating from the noisy and functionally impotent, revolving ceiling fans. The long, yellow strips of glue-sticky paper were taxed with the rather grim and thankless duty, of attracting hapless members of the Brooklyn fly population, to suffer the ignominious fate of death by involuntary adherence. The present title and this post refer to hapless, insecure and needy human beings, immobilized in a flypaper-like adherence, to their neurotic need for (group) acceptance; and voluntarily sacrifice their individuality in the process.
In most cases, the attribution of any of our societally positive adjectives, instantly summons up a Pavlov-style, reflexive, feeling of approval. Among such numerous laudatory adjectives, are words like, kind, loving, trustworthy, moral, honest, sincere, and at applicable times, our mot de jour, “loyal.” Generally, the employment of any of our lexicon’s inventory of positive words, unfailingly portrays a specific, distinct and admirable virtue. However, the adjectival term, “loyalty,” by lone contrast, has potential for double-edged attribution, and thus is not necessarily positive, but is, rather singularly, dependent upon its specific contextual application.
“Loyalty,” as generally understood, is a noble term, suggestive of righteous sentiment and faithful behavior appropriate to a recognized, devoted relationship (i.e., family, friendship, nation.) The underlying dynamics of this word, however, are somewhat distinctive from the other words in the class of positive adjectives. The subject word appears, uniquely, to be grounded, in large part, on emotional underpinnings and sentiments of mandatory homage, and in a far lesser part, on rational consideration. These dynamics can be problematic and deserving of our consideration.
We have only to look to Munich, Germany in the 1930’s to see the positive adjective, “loyalty” perverted to its most nightmarish application; a literate, educated society was, in the name of loyalty to the State, caused to dutifully exterminate fellow Germans, including babies, who happened to be Jewish, as if they were mere cockroaches, as literally portrayed, in Hitler’s insanely hateful “Mein Kampf”.”
Moreover, the misleadingly healthy and positive connotation of “loyalty,” has in fact, seriously challenged the very fabric of our democratic republic. We have previously written on the subject of “tribalism,” wherein insecure persons, vote exclusively for the candidate deemed preferred by their insular group, rather than, based on their own determination. And as well, of the “one issue” voters, loyally adherent to their singular issue, who vote for a candidate, solely, based upon the latter’s declared position on that issue. This latter practice, of course, ignores the other major positions in the candidate’s professed platform, thereby skewing any democratically attempted analysis of the national will. The phenomenon of loyalty, and the neurotic need for acceptance, in such instances are mutually indistinguishable, and as well, selfishly counterproductive.
It is obvious that the virtue of loyalty, founded on good principle, love of family, moral standards or self- respecting morality, is inarguably commendable. When based on irresponsible, neurotic need, shared bigotry, or exclusionary ignorance, it portends an act of blind and irresponsible self-immolation, very much like a fly’s persistent adherence to the fly paper.