Search This Blog


Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Secret Shame of Butterflies

Bow and I are terrestrial beings. As such, we breathe air, drink water, and take in nutrients from dead plants and dead animals. We breathe, we eat, we sleep, we exercise and express ourselves, sometimes loudly and sometimes softly, and we get rid of waste. We are not angels. We don't walk on air or take our nourishment without harming another living soul. But we are also not hypocrites.

Bow is not fooled by the Butterfly

Our dogs are the same. They play together. They eat. They defecate, And they are so innocent and alive and natural that they feel no shame concerning any of these functions.

And yes, I do have dogs. I own them. And they own me. And that's nothing to be ashamed of, either.

We eat. We breathe. We exploit nature for nutrients. And we give back a waste product, which in turn can be someone else's food. Everybody does that, right? It's nothing to boast about, but also nothing to be ashamed of.

And then there are the butterflies. They flit in and out of our lives, beautiful, resplendent beings, and we tend to put them on a pedestal, as if they alone did nothing awkward in order to gain their livelihood.  The black swallowtail flew right past me to land on a yellow bidens flower, but when I drew closer it flitted away.

This is how we like to think of butterflies -- as beautiful and independent, incorruptible and feeding on nectar and drew drops and moonbeams. But butterflies have feet of clay, too, not unlike spiders.

 The spider has an ugly reputation, because it captures and feeds on other insects.

But did you know that butterflies are not the innocent vegans we sometimes take them to be? One day, I saw a Common Buckeye sitting on something on my private road. From a distance, I could not tell what it was.

But as I drew closer, I could clearly see that the Buckeye had been perched on a dead frog. It rains every day, sometimes almost flooding the road, but as soon as the rain retreats, then we get sunshine, and things dry up very fast. Earthworms are not the only victims in this rapid change of environment, and sometimes frogs wash out of local ponds and end up drying to death on our road. Then the butterflies come out and feast on dead flesh.

You can't really blame the Common Buckeye for what it does for a living. As it gets older, later on in the butterfly season, it loses its ability to fly long distances, and sometimes you can just see it walking along down the road, looking for carrion.

There is no shame in eating what is available when it is available, unless, of course, you have been pretending to be something you are not. The coquettish orange-spotted purple in our backyard gives itself airs, as if it were far above us, and as if we were far beneath it. But we are on to it. Yesterday, we caught it on film eating dung!

The Orange-spotted Purple Caught in the Act
There it was in all its glory, and I, not wanting to disturb it, let the dogs into the house, so that the orange-spotted purple and I would have the backyard all to ourselves. Bow, in the outer pen, was the only other witness. So absorbed was the butterfly in what it was doing that it let me creep up on it and film its every move. But Bow was not fooled! You can hear him displaying at the butterfly in the background.

The butterfly had been boastful and imperious before, suggesting that it was low and base of me to take time out of my research to try to earn a living by getting paid for my time. The butterfly had acted as if it never stooped so low as to be motivated by money or nutrients. It was above all that. It only did things for art and beauty and science and the good of all mankind.  Don't you believe it!

People who utilize nonprofits to make a living hide their profit motive, But the motive is still there. And in odd, unguarded moments, they slip up and let you see what they are really like.

At a meeting of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), the nonprofit's executive director, Kellie Heckman,  stated:
Most of us came into the animal welfare business, you know,  for one reason: It's because we love money. 
Then she realized she had slipped up, and she put her hand to her mouth and made an inarticulate shameful noise. Believe me, that is the one moment of truth in the entire video. Later, that part was edited out for public consumption, in the same way that dung could be edited out of my beautiful portraits of the orange-spotted purple butterfly. I was almost complicit in doing that, because I felt maybe my readers do not really want to know the truth about butterflies. But I decided to be brave.

The butterfly has been preaching to me that I should not ask for payment for my time and Bow's or for money to feed my dogs or to make repairs to my research facility or to put food on the table for my family, which includes Bow and my daughter, and the dogs and the birds who depend on us. The butterfly has accused me of selling out when I do things for a living, such as write for certain papers "which as everybody know, is worse the serving in a shop or scaring of the crows."

But I do good work when I write for the Libertarian Papers. I expose, for instance, how nonprofits are being used by the powerful and the wealthy.

I do good work for all of us, when I write about what the Federal government has been doing to break up the family.

I do good work in covering the FDA's attempts to corner the market on pain relievers.

I am not a sell out because I want to be paid for my time, and because I don't pretend that I don't like money. Money is not the root of all evil. People pretending not to want money while they line their pockets at other people's expense are the problem.

So the next time a butterfly or a nonprofit tells you that it is above earthly concerns, don't you fall for that. Even butterflies need to eat. And they will stop at nothing to get what they want.

No comments:

Post a Comment