Cautious Optimism for the Chilean Miners

Like many people today, I find regular politics to be briefly inconsequential.

In a world where there is much sadness, there is very cautious optimism coming out of Chile.

All over the world, people are watching and praying that the early signs coming out of Chile regarding the mine rescue continue to lead to positive developments.

Until all 33 miners are rescued, a full celebration cannot begin.

In the coming days and weeks there will be talk of lawsuits, and investigations into what went wrong.

Not today.

For one day, the best of the human spirit is on display. Let that be the story.

The most honorable thing a human being can do is risk their life for another human being. What makes this even more poignant is that the rescuers and the miners are complete strangers to each other.

For 69 days the miners were trapped underground. I did not cover the story because like the rest of the world, the only thing to do was wait.

The Chilean government was very smart to do what many governments and individuals fail to do. The Chilean government lowered expectations.They under-promised and over-delivered.

Attention to detail was critical. The rescue was done at night to avoid risking any of the miners going blind from light shock after over two dark months. Their arms were covered to prevent skin burning from the heat. While one would think the sickest miners would be sent up first, it made sense to have some of the healthier ones go first so that the sicker ones could be “prepared” underground by rescue workers before coming back above ground.

Every precaution pre-rescue and post-rescue will determine the lives of these 33 miners forever.

The miners are not the only ones affected. The rescuers are under intense pressure. Families are watching and waiting.

So is the entire world.

Despite the problems that face this world, I still believe that most people in this world are good, decent people with noble hearts.

We are also a frustrated world. We are starving for good news. For every Sully Sullenberger happy ending, it seems that there are four or five episodes of terrorism, natural disasters or other tragedies.

There is unimaginable human suffering, including cyber-bullying that recently led to young people committing suicide.

Those episodes cannot and should not be ignored. Suppressing the reality of our world is not the way to fix it.

Yet at some point, we look upward and we look inward, and we beg for scraps of positive news.

The Pennsylvania mine episode turned jubilant when the governor at the time proudly exclaimed “All 9 are alive!”

West Virginia was the worst kind of heartbreak. First we were told that all but one of the miners had survived, 12 out of 13. People hugged each other joyously, only to find out later that the numbers were reversed, and that all but one had died. The sole survivor was a mess.

Chile so far is hopeful but far from a victory. The miners will have to guard against dehydration, and there will be emotional scars that may take years. Early pumping of fists could just be adrenaline rushes that wear off quickly.

Yet looking at the faces of the spouses and the children of the miners who have already been rescued tells us all we need to know. As long as these miners are alive, there is a chance that everything this time will eventually be ok.

When the second miner was rescued, I pumped my fist. The television news reporter summed it up when he said, “I don’t care if we see this 34 more times, every single time you will get a chill watching it.”

The second miner actually gave presents to the rescuers. He hugged every single rescuer.

One miner volunteered to be the very last one rescued. Words cannot describe this act of honor.

The second miner kept pumping his fist while the crowd chanted “C-H-I-L-E!”

I want to join in the celebration but there is still a long way to go.

I keep coming back to the people of this world.

We have our skirmishes about politics and sports. In America, the next three weeks will feature a nation described as torn apart.

Yet when there is a true tragedy such as a 9/11, we unite. When we split up again, that is not necessarily bad. It means we are ok, and have gotten back to normal.

The entire world comes together when a city like New York, Bali, or Mumbai gets bombed.

The entire world comes together when storms devastate Haiti.

The entire world is helping out with the rescue of the Chilean miners.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that “Long-time enemies Bolivia and Chile are cooperating to support Bolivian miner Carlos Mamani, 23, and Bolivia’s leftist President Evo Morales is expected to greet the newly freed miners along with Chile’s conservative President Sebastian PiƱera.”

Everyone is pitching in.

American technology from NASA has helped with this rescue.

People we will never know are doing big and little things we will never find out about just to show they care.

Whether one believes in Almighty God, or in some other way acknowledges something higher than our individual selves, most of us truly do care about the world around us and our fellow human beings.

We sometimes fight about the details of how to get “there,” but most of us truly want a better world.

It has taken…and will continue to take…a ton of hard work to allow this potential tragedy to be a triumph.

The rescue workers are only the beginning, albeit a vital beginning.

Doctors, psychiatrists, clergy, and many others will pitch in.

Spouses and children will provide love and support. Patience will be required more than ever.

Maybe one day we will look back and see this episode as a turning point for the day when the world became a better place.

Maybe that is naive to think.

Yet for one day, the early news seems to be good.

I remain cautiously optimistic.

May God bless the Chilean miners and all of their loved ones.

May more good days ahead await us.

In every corner of the globe…now more than ever…we need this.


One Response to “Cautious Optimism for the Chilean Miners”

  1. What amazed me was how these guys kept their haeds and stuck together, forming the micro-society under the ground, each taking on a special role, creating pairings to watch out for each other. Remember, it was 17 days before these guys were even discovered – only to find out they had another couple of months at best to get out of there!

    These guys are really a testament to the better angels of men.


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