Fighting for a Patch of Light

Argentina and the UK have been arguing over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands for 200 years. A war was fought over them in 1982. If you asked me my opinion about this conflict and I can elaborate, I can calmly consider the arguments on both sides of the issue. Argentina inherited the islands from Spain after independence and the British arbitrarily occupied them in the 19th century. But today the population is all British, and it has been that way for over a century. The Argentine military government occupied the islands in 1982 and was foolish enough to think that the British would not retake them. But the UK committed a was crime when used a nuclear-powered submarine to unnecessarily sink an Argentine Second World War-vintage light cruiser, killing 323 sailors. And so and so on.

However, if cornered with a question to which I can give only one answer, like “Who is the legitimate owner of those islands, Argentina or the UK?” then I would emphatically say “Argentina.” That’s what I grew up with.

Which brings me to a story told to me by a college friend who obtained a doctorate in entomology at Oxford. A researcher from Oxford who commuted to work by bicycle, going through the woods one day noticed certain patches of sunlight on the forest floor. What was unusual about them was that everyone of them had a butterfly on it. Intrigued, he investigated further and found out that those were male butterflies, every one of them staking a claim on his patch of light, hoping to attract the love of his life. The patches would move with the passing of the hours and so would their male occupants.

Then he designed an experiment: he removed the male butterfly from his patch and waited until it was claimed again by another male. And later he reintroduced the original occupant. Both male butterflies fought viciously for the patch that they thought was rightfully theirs…