Morning Coffee: Icarus Dilemma

Healing HeartHubris, the Greek word for Man acting like a God, excessive pride or self-confidence. The ancient Greeks believed the gods punished those who did not recognize and live within their own limits.

They tell the cautionary tale of Daedalus. He fashioned wings using feathers and wax and with these wings he was able to fly. He gave a pair to his son, Icarus, but with the warning not to fly too close to the water or they would get wet, nor fly too close to the sun or they would melt. The shepherds and plowmen who witnessed their flight from below believed them to be gods. Well, we all know how this story ends. Icarus, filled with the arrogance that comes with pride does, indeed, fly too close to the sun. The wax melts from his wings, he falls to the ocean below, and he drowns. Hubris caused Daedalus to lose his son, and Icarus to lose his life.

Such tales of pride, though usually not as colorful or dramatic, are not absent from today’s world. For example, just because we are capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons does not mean we should. God gave some of us great knowledge with which we can create great things, but with that there is also great power. . .and power can be abused. Armies with massive weaponry can either protect us or tempt our leaders to go where we don’t belong, or take what is not ours. Ventilators that can buy an ailing and damaged body the time to heal can also keep someone otherwise deceased “alive” for untold days, weeks, months, even years, without any hope of recovery. Where is the line between true greatness and hubris? How can we defeat the Siren’s song that lies deep within us all?

I don’t know if I have the answer to those questions. The line is gray, blurred, often shifting position depending on circumstances. All we can do is look deep within our heart, pray for guidance, and ask ourselves what our true motive is, whether it is money or fame or the hope for a solution to a much bigger problem. We can vote for leaders who are wise and willing to listen to their advisors, able to weigh all the possible outcomes to their actions and pick the best for all. . .even when every option on the table is undesirable in and of itself. As individuals, we should remember our words can hurt or they can heal, but they cannot be unsaid once out of our mouths. We should be more aware of our actions toward our family, friends, neighbors, even strangers. When you see someone in need and you look away, ask yourself why.

Humility is the opposite of hubris. It doesn’t mean living beneath our God-given talents, ignoring the knowledge we were born to achieve. But it does mean recognizing what is good and what is not, what will bring good to others and what will only bring good to us. Our naturally sinful nature means we will not, cannot, always succeed, but shouldn’t we at least try?

Fall From Grace
By Jane Yunker

Adam fell from God’s eye.
Not soft and gentle as
the seed of the milkweed
drifting on a warm breeze,
but a hard fast freefall,
like Icarus from the sun.
Hot arrogance melting
wax from his wings, releasing
feathers of selfishness
to flutter slowly after,
covering his body in sin.

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