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Butterflies, Capitalism, & Happiness

By Cara Hösterey

When I started to look at what our lives are supposed to be like, what I saw was oddly similar to the metamorphosis of butterflies. We, just like them, go from one predetermined stage to another, from kindergarten to school, from high school to college, from college to work, from work to retirement, with only slight individual changes. We may marry, have kids, and watch them go through the same stages.

But humans aren’t as simple as butterflies, we don’t work that way. If an egg fails to transform into a caterpillar, the reason can be found relatively easy. How about people who fail our system? Are they simply ‘faulty’? I know this question would generally be found extremely offensive, but considering the way poor people are treated, that must be what some people think. We, and by that I mean only the western, capitalist society I have lived in, pride ourselves on the fact that our system is an equalizer of sort (it is obviously not, but that’s a discussion for another time), giving everyone the chance to reach the next best stage, and when some people don’t, it must be their fault and not the system’s, right?

The system we have built up is too rigid, even soul-crushing for some. We promise ourselves happiness once the next big milestone is hit, constantly searching and never finding. See, once the caterpillar transitions to a butterfly, all is well, it has arrived and can continue to fulfill its purpose in the circle that is life. What is that destination for humans? What is our purpose? Surely checking off each little item on our list of imaginary, societal goals can’t be it, or at least it isn’t for me, and I don’t think it is for many people in my generation either.

It is perfectly fine to find true happiness in the traditional lifestyle, but our antiquated structure simply isn’t the be-all and end-all for everyone. Are we so desperate for the stability we lost somewhere in the process of gaining consciousness that we imitate the example nature sets? I hope we can evolve into something more.

Butterflies are pretty, but we are more complex than they are, and the way we live our lives should reflect that.

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