Daedalus crafted wings of wax and feathers, enabling his son Icarus to fly away from imprisonment in Crete. It worked, but the young man ignored his father’s instructions and flew too close to the sun in his exuberance. The wax melted, and he fell to his death in the sea.
It may be an unbelievable Greek myth, but there is certainly a lesson – and a warning – for all of us cherishing the idea of freedom. For each of us who want to feel light in the head and heart so we too are able to float up and fly. Metaphorically at least! Yes, freedom awaits in the air – but only as long as we are able to breathe in it!
The Price of Feeling Limitless
Let’s reflect on Icarus’s fate – one he brought upon himself. Just because he got the ability to fly, he felt limitless and paid the price for it. Likewise for humanity – at least those born in the post-industrial world. The capabilities of our brains and limbs enabled us to create things our ancestors could not have even imagined. But these things needed materials available only in the ground and in the seas. The plunder of Earth rose exponentially as capitalists played on the human mind to mutate most of us into compulsive consumers – what started as coveting objects of desire spiralled into an unchecked frenzy. Just because we too felt limitless.
The real price we have paid is not what was marked on the tags – but of the environment. We have defaced the planet, infested our food with harmful chemicals, and contaminated our drinking water. Our habitats are piles of garbage. We have become addicted to medical drugs for our bodily and mental illnesses – legitimised by a doctor’s prescription. The worst of all? The air we draw oxygen from, the air we want to float in, is toxic. Freedom should be in the air, but it is not.
Beware the New Imperialists a.k.a. Capitalists
Icarus perished because he flew too close to the sun. The same heat will kill us too – in our case, we are trapping it in the atmosphere getting denser with greenhouse gases. Icarus error in judgment could be attributed to his youth, but what is our excuse? Scientists, activists, anyone with common sense have been raising the red flags for over a century – but their voices are being muzzled by the complicity of capitalists and politicians. Let’s call them the new imperialists.
These imperialists move within your communities, and come across as one of your own. They make a big deal of patriotism, making events like Independence Day a big deal. But they are deluding you. They make you feel free, but they have taken away your freedom in a way even colonisers in the past did not. They have denied you the basic right to breathe in a clean atmosphere.
It’s Not Too Late
The good news is we can still correct our course – we have people telling us we are off-track. No one told Icarus in time. What is needed is a new freedom movement. It does not require political upheaval, it does not require armed resistance, it does not require any conflicts. It just requires us to free our own selves.
Free our own selves from the slavery of consumerism. We do not need anyone’s approval for it, nor can we be persecuted for it. It will involve a battle within. If each of us can resist the temptation to buy more for the sake of it, if we can prevent being charmed by the lure created by marketers, if we can delink our social worth from material possessions, we will strike blows to the nexus of unchecked capitalists and their political patrons. It will take a lot for this mountain to crumble, but the start will be made by dislodging one pebble.
The resolve and the effort will the worth it – because what awaits on the other side is freedom. In the air.