This gorgeous creature meandered into my garden on a wafting breeze. I watched delighted, as it rested first on my Boston Fern and then settled on me.
The Common Eggfly Butterfly male is quite territorial, attacking any butterflies who encroach on its territory, chasing them away. Many males show obvious damage to their wings because of these skirmishes but it doesn’t appear to affect their flying ability. They may defend the same place for days.
But the one who chose to visit me was a female. It’s easy to tell because each gender has a distinct colouring.
I hadn’t noticed any evidence of the caterpillars which are described as black in colour with orange-yellow branch-spines. But I read they feed at night, so I may have missed them.
In light of unfolding events in Australian politics, the butterfly got me thinking. At a fundamental level, its aggression is about having its own way, of commanding the territory and its resources for self gain which ultimately comes down to survival, and if that’s at someone else’s expense then that’s tough.
Are we as a species so very different?
I think at our best, we are.
I like to think when push comes to shove, we put the good of the whole first. We have evolved from a ‘survival of the fittest’ mindset to embrace our innate human tendency for compassion – a species of ‘homo altruism’. It’s our ‘social’ nature that has brought us this far. In its present form Individualism is a relatively new social phenomenon. While some aspects of this view have merit – the moral worth of every individual – we increasingly see it expressed as the benefit to a few at the expense of the many.
So why are we seeing this ugly slide to the political far right, with its divisive ‘them against us’ attitude and an intolerance for any view which doesn’t align with their own?
As I write, our nation is waiting for our government to sort out its embarrassing power divisions. It’s a disgrace we will have our seventh Prime Minister in a decade. Meanwhile, our farmers are battling severe drought, refugees still languish in detention centres, homelessness is on the increase, our hopes for some redress on the climate question dwindle. I could go on but you get the picture. This swing away from the humane is a global problem.
The butterfly has disappeared from my garden. The symbolism of metamorphosis remains with me. Let’s hope our painful situation can emerge into something we can all be proud of.
The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.