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Butterflies and Networks

A friend asked me to share the story of the butterfly. I’ve read this story many times, in different versions. My first encounter with it was in Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul of Money.

Butterfly on a red flower
Photo by miniformat65 (Pixabay)

The Butterfly

Scientists have been studying the butterfly and how it transforms from a lowly caterpillar to a winged beauty. This is what they’ve found…

The caterpillar goes through most of its life in a mild-mannered way, crawling and munching. But at a certain point, it develops a voracious appetite and consumes everything in sight, getting larger and larger. Finally, it finds a nice spot, hangs from a leaf and forms a chrysalis around itself.

Inside the caterpillar are these cells that know how to make a butterfly. They’re called seminal cells or “imaginal” cells. But the caterpillar’s immune system sees them as foreign bodies and destroys them—until… enough of the imaginal cells emerge and find each other and start working together. Then the caterpillar becomes the nutritional soup out of which the butterfly is made.

It’s an interesting parallel to what’s happening in the world today. Our voracious rate of consumption is wreaking havoc on the very systems we depend on. Yet, at the same time, there are points of light—individuals and groups that are coming together to solve problems and build new systems at the local, regional and international levels. These are our own version of “imaginal” cells.

That’s why I’m writing this blog and sharing these stories of prosperity. The more we can see what it looks like when we are doing it, the better able we are to create it. We are indeed building a beautiful “butterfly”—a richly dynamic, prosperous and peaceful global civilization.

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