A Postman butterfly at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Butterfly Jungle.
A Postman butterfly at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Butterfly Jungle.

By Colleen O’Connor

Not to worry about the frightening upheavals around the world.

The Arab Spring that has given rise to the Islamic state and a biblical flood of refugees into Europe.

The 700 percent inflation rate in Venezuela — a country that can’t afford to print its own money—and has reduced public sector work days to two a week.

The genocidal wars in Africa.

The years-long soap opera called Greece.

China’s $1 trillion in bad debt, hundreds of “Zombie” companies, and closed factories.

The financial-ization and weapon-ization of everything.

California’s drought.

San Diego’s homelessness.

Or even the ominous predictions of “world enders.”

Fear not.

The butterfly will save us.

Chaos, destruction, imbalance and the sated lifestyles devouring the planet and creating fear among her inhabitants, are actually losing the war for Darwinian dominance.

Let me explain.

We are currently at the 3rd step of evolution. From powerful bacteria to raging Darwinism to the present evolutionary leap. A leap to a brilliant future of restored balance and cooperation—explained—courtesy of the butterfly.

The science goes like this—the more the greedy caterpillar eats, the faster it destroys itself.

Simple: from gluttonous caterpillar to ethereal butterfly.

“A caterpillar crunches its way through its ecosystem, cutting a swath of destruction by eating as much as hundreds of times its weight in a day, until it is too bloated to continue and hangs itself up, its skin then hardening into a chrysalis.

“Inside this chrysalis, deep in the caterpillar’s body, tiny things biologists call ‘imaginal disks’ begin to form. Not recognizing the newcomers, the caterpillar’s immune system snuffs them as they arise. But they keep coming faster and faster, then linking up with each other.

“Eventually the caterpillar’s immune system fails from the stress and the disks become imaginal cells that build the butterfly by feeding on the soupy meltdown of the caterpillar’s body.”

This metamorphosis is better than a phoenix rising from the ashes—as the butterfly is both real and new.

Just as the caterpillar loses to a greater good, so too, will the destructive, disruptive and destabilizing forces around us be overtaken by our own “imaginal cells.”

In short, as the butterfly wins; so, too, will a cooperative, collaborative future grow in strength, proportional to the gluttonous forces.

This reality is ever present, but underappreciated. Whether it is the environmental movement; the “local, local, local” farm to fork push; the direct democracy trend; the connectivity of the internet and social media, micro-lending or the idealism of the young.

These human imaginal cells are formidable and intensifying.

Just look to the butterflies. They will save us.


Colleen O’Connor is a retired college history professor. 

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