MYTHS, MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES

by Joyce Robinson

 

A myth is defined as a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people, or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involves supernatural beings or events. They are synonymous with folk tales, legends, fables and lore. A myth is also defined as a widely held, but false, belief or idea.

 

 

Moths and butterflies belong to the order of insects called LEPIDOPTERA, which are identified by two pairs of scaled wings and the fact that they undergo a complete metamorphosis. According to www.merriam-webster.com, metamorphosis is defined as “a typically marked and more or less abrupt developmental change in the form or structure of an animal (such as a butterfly or frog).”

 

Butterflies are active by day, have clubbed antennae, typically have a slender body with brightly colored wings that are covered with microscopic scales, and hold their wings erect when at rest.

Moths are chiefly nocturnal, have feathery antennae, typically have a stout body, drab coloration, and wings that fold flat when resting.

 

There are many myths about moths and butterflies. In mythology, a white butterfly can mean that angels are watching over you and that you are being protected. If a white butterfly makes a sudden appearance in the home, it means that good luck will follow. To see or have one land on you is a sign of good luck. Some people enjoy watching butterflies, and some enjoy collecting them. In order to attract butterflies, people stop using pesticides in their yards and gardens, grow native plants, plant the right colors, and create beautiful spaces.

 

Compared to butterflies, moths get a bad rap. In mythology, a white moth is sometimes seen as a symbol of death or ill wishes. In real life, instead of trying to attract moths, people see signs of the presence of moths as a bad thing. When people see signs of moth activity, such as tiny holes in clothes, clothing that looks dusty or discolored or smell musty, people set out moth traps and do what they can to get rid of them.

 

Humans belong to the order HOMO SAPIENS, characterized by erect posture, bipedal locomotion, high manual dexterity, and heavy tool use. They generally trend toward larger, more complex brains and societies, and they, too, undergo complete metamorphosis defined as “a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances (such as when humans become homeless).”

 

Myths abound about humans as well. Disenfranchised people are usually looked upon in negative terms. Like moths, homeless people especially are given a bad rap. Some of the myths surrounding homeless people include: homeless people are lazy and don't want to work, homelessness is always related to mental illness, most homeless people are addicted to drugs and alcohol, homelessness is only a problem in big cities, homeless people live in the streets, and homelessness is going away.

 

Homeless people are punished by criminalizing them for their homeless state. Instead of punishing people for their current homeless state, why not try to find alternative solutions that will help homeless people become productive members of society? We could provide life skills training for when they become housed, provide more shelters with better trained employees, have separate shelters for those with mental illness, and have more access to high school completion and college entrance programs.

 

In order to stop or change these ideas about homelessness, we should do what we can to stop or reject the myths that abound and help people to create new truths!