Experiencing The Monarch in Silver Lake made me reflect on the fragility and delicate nature of our culture, society, and environment. Just as the artwork and butterflies themselves are fragile, so is the ecological balance we all exist in. So are individual human social relationships and the larger networks of cultural alliances and relationships among groups. Acknowledging this inherent fragility in the cultural backdrop we all take for granted reinforces my belief that one can best judge the advancement of a society by how it treats its least fortunate and privileged members. A truly advanced society carefully tends to the less powerful, the easily damaged or disturbed. This relationship to those most at risk in turn informs the way members of that society view themselves. The state of being in flux, as one is during a migration or a long voyage, renders one even more vulnerable than usual, and therefore places stronger demands on the surrounding societies and networks to understand migrants better in order to help them. The ability to defy self-centered attitudes and xenophobic tendencies is a prerequisite facilitated by a strong social fabric. Despite the greedy destruction and desecration of their habitat, monarchs continue to migrate against impossible odds and ever-increasing encroachment and antagonism from humans. So too do those immigrants facing insurmountable obstacles: fleeing persecution and seeking opportunities while crossing borders. I find inspiration in their persistent determination, whether borne of instinct, necessity, or aspiration.
Ricky de Laveaga