Global Dispatches: Greece—The Icarus Attitude

September 6, 2010 Updated: September 11, 2010

It is very common for Greek youngsters to go backwoods camping in the summer on one of Greece’s many scenic islands.

The islands are beautiful with many different types of rocky green scenery surrounded by ocean that reflects a myriad of colors; the islands have lots of sun and nearly always perfect weather.

This summer a group of friends and I decided to leave hot, dry Athens behind and find adventure on the island of Ikaria.

Ikaria is famous for it's connection with the mythological Icarus. Icarus was the son of Dedalus, a master sculptor and architect. To escape imprisonment from the island of Crete, Dedalus fashioned wings of feathers and wax. The two flew into the sky, and Icarus, enamored by the sun, did not heed his father's warning and flew up toward it. The sun melted the boy’s wings and he fell into the sea. The water where he fell became known as Icarian and the nearest island, became Ikaria.

My friends found a great camping spot, surrounded by large, tan boulders that looked over a deep-blue ocean. Behind the campsite we were surprised to find a clear green river, alive with beautiful creatures—butterflies, blue and pink dragonflies and lizards with long turquoise tails.

We walked along the river until it ended at a waterfall where cool water drew many campers for a for morning shower.

At the waterfall I met a brilliant young Greek lady, and we fell into conversation under the sounds of the waterfall.

She was studying architecture in Italy, and I asked her how she liked studying out of Greece.

She replied that she went to Italy because it was too difficult to enter the university in Greece but that now she feels lucky because what she is learning in Italy she would never learn in a Greek university.
“And why is that?” I asked.

Because in Italy, I am forced to go to every lesson while in most Greek universities students are not forced to attend lectures. This lacks professionalism and creates a huge gap between Greece and other European countries.

“Of course I would love to come back and work in Greece because I prefer the Greek way of living,” she said, “But I could not find a good job here, one with a salary like what I would get in Italy. This mechanically makes me gonna stay in Italy even if i don't want it.

“How do you feel about that?” I asked.

“I feel banned from my own country and hopeless at the same time. Greece has been given so many warnings that it needs to improve but they are not followed. Greece kicks off all her brilliant youngsters because she does not have a secure future to give them.”

I replied that I understood, and felt the same way. The instability in Greece is partly due to the Ikaros attitude. We have a cultural tendency not to take important rules seriously, causing chaos, and creating endless problems for the country.

In the myth of Icarus we see that this attitude cost the life of a young boy. It still costs Greece the lives of many of her young.

Let's cross our fingers and be optimistic that Greece will learn to heed warning signs and make decisions rationally.

The young lady agreed, “I love Greece,” she said.

“Me too!” I replied, “Let's jump off the top of the waterfall.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.