Painful Change


Common Eggfly female

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. 

Richard Bach

40 responses to “Painful Change

  1. That’s an interesting analogy of the assertive male butterfly and aggressive (my word) individualistic leadership in our current national government. You were writing about your situation in Australia, but I was reading our own situation in the United States. What a parallel!

    I didn’t know that Australia has been experiencing its own political divides — divisions, sub-divisions, acrimonious attitudes. My friends and I have begun to delete all negative content from our Facebook pages. We post only the “good stuff” from literature and music, nature and religious faith. And, yes, that includes butterflies (as you well know if you’ve been following my blog at http://www.invitationtothegarden.WordPress.

    Thank you, Robyn!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jo, I applaud your positive stance. I think Richard Bach’s quote at the end of my post reflects it. There are times I call a moratorium on Facebook and social media bad news. I even try to avoid it on TV and my phone. But sometimes I’m compelled to call out the terrible stuff I see happening with the hope it empowers others to speak up.

      Liked by 2 people

    • That is SUCH a great idea! The main reason I dislike fb is the constant up down rollercoaster with nasty surprises, yes I know could be a metaphor for life, but you see things you can’t unsee with no warning. This happened to me the other night, my husband sharing something with me from his fb, I’m not on it, a news story with images that really upset me and I just couldn’t get the images out of my mind for days. I believe in butterflies!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Your words, “aggressive, individualistic leadership,” are accurate when applied to our president. The rest of the “men” in his party seem more like self-serving go-along teammates who will follow anyone who let’s them maintain their positions. It is shameful. (uh-oh, I’m starting to sound like an angry Facebooker. I will just add that we desperately need women in leadership positions.)

      To Robyn: Very thoughtful and informative post. Ive heard that explanation about our success in the past depended on our evolving into cooperative groups instead of going it alone. What I’d like to know is how it all changed. Evidently all over the world aggressive individualistic leadership, competition instead of cooperation, is becoming the norm. Maybe weve gotten too far away from nature, from gardens and butterflies. If writings like yours appeared on op-ed pages, the “national conversations” might veer away from identity politics and power issues. You would make an excellent advisor to those considering running for office. 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hello Albert! I love your contributions to the discussion. You so often send me off to revisit old texts or research new ones.

        Individualism has become a dirty word. It wasn’t always thus but its seed was planted even before the rise of ancient Greece with the idea of an individual having equal moral worth, rights and responsibilities (if you weren’t a woman or a slave, that is). Since then, it has been employed by philosophers, anthropologists, political regimes etc. in numerous ways to serve many different arguments, many different masters.

        I think individualism (in its purist sense) can live happily with collectivism. In fact, I think if we are to succeed as a species, it must.

        I’m glad you liked the butterfly story.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for articulating the current situation so beautifully Robyn. What a wonderful and hopeful image the butterfly brings. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a mess indeed- & unfortunately our Earth, her creatures, & our beloved children are the ones who are suffering from this ridiculously childish & short-sighted male ego power battle! 😡

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love this analogy, I believe the quote at the end and I endeavour to keep away from all politics, and politicians. I don’t believe them, don’t believe in them, and feel the less attention I give them, the less real they become.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It does seem that there is a worldwide ‘them and us’ mentality at the moment, with the far right playing on small-minded fears. Let’s hope there is a reawakening of compassion in response. X


  6. Well I don’t know if I’m saddened by the universality of this or comforted by the fact that it is not an American aberration. I hope we’re more evolved but think we are just more civilized in our execution. Your analogy to the butterfly is so clear! Let’s hope some politicians read your blog. Thanks for this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Truly a sad star of affairs and not just in your country but around the world, Robyn. I prefer to think of this time as the chaos before the dawn of a new era of cooperation. Fingers crossed.🤞 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had no idea some butterflies were given to brawling! That apart, I do share the concern that we are living in an increasingly aggressive environment. Not physically aggressive, but one where name-calling and other irrational, irrelevant statements are becoming a regular feature of political discussion. Many handsome tributes have recently been paid to the late Senator John McCain by people all along the left to right political spectrum. Deservedly so.

    However, we now seem to be in an environment where insulting your opponent is preferable to listening to what they have to say and then challenging their arguments with courtesy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wish I could comment more meaningfully concerning Australian politics; as it is I can only assure you the whole Western system is the same. Perhaps the greatest cost of improved communication is the inability to use it constructively. I wish I knew the answer to people – they’re just the worst!

    Liked by 1 person

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