Wings have the power to elevate; not just the pilot, but the reader and the onlooker too. Writers, artists, and poets have inspired with these images since the beginnings of time and art. The ancient Greeks provided us with the archetypal story of the first flight. From high school Mythology class I knew the first flyer as Icarus,”the boy with wings who flew too close to the sun.” I could feel that the same fire within me.
That myth remains forever modern – singing its song of independence, freedom, and sometimes the tragic vigor of youth.
Icarus was fortunate in one regard. His wings were a gift from his father, a famous inventor/scientist named Daedalus. And, even if the father’s warning was ineffective…the one about not flying too high…Icarus clearly had his father’s blessing. Which brings us to the heart of this blog post.
For me, high school was in Northeastern Ohio. It was 1970, a time and place in which law and culture coalesced to pressure all young men into college, the military, or jail. On a Monday morning in May and just a few miles down the road from my high school, four students were shot and killed at Kent State University. Nine were wounded. The bullets were fired…not by Islamic extremists…but by members of our community, heavily armed and wearing US Army uniforms. It was my first mass casualty event. I would graduate in June.
Two years later the military draft became a lottery. Blessed with a high number, I dropped out of college and took to the metaphorical skies. It would be my emancipation…from dependent youth into free thinking and independent man...a year of traveling throughout Europe and the Mediterranean by thumb and backpack, falling in love, and beginning the research that would l inspire and inform my writing and my parenting. The wings that carried me aloft and into that journey were a gift; one given to myself. Selfish? Perhaps, but I assert that young men instinctively look to their elders for guidance on how best to emancipate. The window is short. Parents
The inherent weakness of the gun model for emancipation is the one size fits all approach. Too many lonely young men foolishly mistake guns for their own budding manhood, get angry, and fire away at peers and teachers in public school settings. In my lifetime the list of mass casualty events has grown far too long. As a father with grown children, I strongly recommend the wing builder option. It’s highly individualized, much less destructive than gunfire, and time honored for empowering the heart and soul of a youth.
Wings have always been meant for flying in the light and warmth of the sun.
For more about the story of Icarus and Daedalus, I recommend a page-turning reinterpretation of the first flight: Icarus and the Wing Builder. https://goo.gl/EkySso
Signed: Daedalus February 3, 2017