“The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.” —Alfred North Whitehead
(Continued from last week’s issue…)
Daedalus took off flapping his wings faster and faster to get vertical lift-off and escape gravity. Icarus followed suit and took off shortly after. As they flew, the people on the ground in Crete watched in amazement wondering whether the winged creatures are the gods themselves flying.
Icarus trailed his father closely at first, following his flight pattern and struggling to take heed of his father’s admonitions. But feeling an overwhelming sense of growing power in his ability to fly, reveling in his freedom and giving in to his impetuous, youthful nature, Icarus deviated a little at first, taking little swoops and side trips and catching up with his father who was intently flying on a steady speed and altitude.
As Icarus swooped, dived and indulged frivolously in his aerial acrobatics, Icarus soon forgot his father’s words and flew higher and higher towards the noonday sun. Then the wax in his wings melted, the wooden framework broke apart and the feathers blew away.
Wingless and panicking, Icarus plunged headlong like deadweight into the blue waters.
Daedalus swooped down in hot pursuit to save his son but it was much too late. All he saw were a few feathers floating on the surface.
Daedalus, with a heavy heart at the tragic loss of his beloved Icarus, managed to fly to Sicily. In his grief, Daedalus retired his wings, lost his love for life and never flew again.
Over and over again through the generations, we see this tendency of some of the young ones to “forget” the things they have been taught and allow hubris and folly to rule. Some throw away everything they have learned and painstakingly worked for in one impetuous decision or action. It is as if their overwhelming sense of freedom, newly-attained independence and sense of power goads them to “fly close to the sun.”
Humility gets torpedoed and overweening pride rules. They feel they no longer need guidance from anyone. Sometimes a good scare or a tiny thorn of bad experience can be humbling and worth more than a lifetime of warnings, advice and admonitions to nudge prideful youth back to reality and on the straight and narrow.
While we may think that this tendency of the youth today is unique to our times, we only have to look back several thousand years to know that the scenario may have changed, the cast of characters in every generation in every nation may be different, but the predilection for hubris particularly in the young, remains the same.
Notice the youth within your immediate daily orbit. With few exceptions, you might see that the egocentric self-absorption that consumes the severely distracted young these days is borne of hubris that a modern, tech-savvy culture seems to engender with short-cuts that only serve to short-circuit.
Self-confidence and a healthy self-esteem come only after the young have paid hefty dues in life’s lessons learned. Humility, erroneously perceived as meekness these days, is scoffed at and swept under the rug. And yet without humility that instinctively knows and accepts that one needs to learn from others to grow in wisdom, no real learning is possible. There are lives all around us who can serve as models that we can emulate and cautionary tales we can learn from.
On the part of adults who have been there and done all that and have the scars to show for it, achieving perspective and an empathetic bone are needed to remember we were once just as young, just as foolish, or perhaps even more so. But that we praise the God of our being and with all humility admit that we were the lucky ones who got a pass because life was magnanimous enough to let us get past that harrowing stage of youthful folly, with barely a scratch and live long enough to see the cycle repeated in our children. Sigh.
Picture a flashback. You can almost see your mother or father, eyes rolling upward, throwing their hands in the air in sheer frustration after you’ve committed a stupid, arrogant stunt or acted like a mindless jackass for the nth time when you were young, quipping a line that sounds like a curse, “May you have children just like you!”
Of course, it works just as well on the flip side of the coin. When you have children who have finally become wise after being foolish, you can say the same line as a blessing and heave a sigh of relief.
Take heed, young ones. One day, you will become adults who will have children of your own. Then you’ll know that what goes around, definitely comes around.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail email@example.com