The person in front of me paid her bill and I moved forward. I shamefully looked at the cashier. “What is this?” I asked, pointing at the display. She nodded sheepishly. “I don’t think I agree with this,” I said. Gazing anywhere but at me, she nodded again, vocal chords backed up against the scriptures of her job. I bought my soil and left.
Still in some doubt as to what I saw, I googled “Butterfly in a Jar” when I got home.
Butterfly in a jar - you can't fly so far.
When we were kids, we liked putting butterflies in jars so we could keep them forever and ever. But sometimes they always died. It was sad - extra sad because butterflies (in our opinion) are like rainbows and unicorns: unadulterated creations of magic and beauty.
But “sometimes” they died? And it was “extra sad” because butterflies are like “rainbows and unicorns”. What?? So, it would have been okay then to have a cockroach or an ant in the jar. Perhaps even a caterpillar, because you can’t really compare them to a rainbow. Is beauty the only thing that has value?
Now don’t get me wrong, I did my share of cruelty as a child. Without proper guidance I gave no thought that insects or other crawlers such as crabs had reason to be except for my pleasure. I am not proud of these deeds I did in the name of childish enjoyment but I also see them as a mark of an immature mind: one that we grow out of. And is loss, the death of another, okay in the pursuit of it?
I know this “butterfly” is fake. I also know now that it is attached to some miniscule wire that reacts electronically to vibration. What gives me the creeps is that it symbolizes enjoyment through entrapment; imprisonment and fear. We are supposed to teach our children not to hurt others, to see all of life as interconnected and yet here we provide them with a struggling, albeit fake, butterfly suggesting that man, indeed, has domain over all living things. Rubbish!
The advertisement goes on to say: There is absolutely no way you can look at a Electronic Butterfly in a Jar and not smile. It is like having a piece of magic nature on your desk that defies death. Pick your favorite butterfly flavor (or collect the whole team) and get ready to feel good when you marvel at your Electronic Butterfly in a Jar.
Well, it didn’t make me smile. There is nothing interdependent (or beautiful) about this “Butterfly in a Jar”: no respect, mutuality nor ethical leadership from the store owners or the original manufacturer. And then there is me… how complicit am I when not only do I not speak up to management but that I tap the jar? More on that in my next article.