Fuerza Mineros, (the Twitter hashtag #fuerzamineros), a wish of strength to the miners, these two words I typed dozens of times yesterday as I watched the rescue unfold in Chile.
I tweeted some of the rescues as they happened, and once I started, I found that I had to stay there for the very last one.
Part of the intrigue for me was pride in watching the true international effort at play – seeing how we are capable of such greatness when we work together. This rescue in Chile could not have happened without the help of the United States, and dozens of other countries. It’s a lesson in cooperation and humbleness, in allowing others to help when you can’t do something on your own. It’s a lesson on strength in numbers – just as the Chilean miners pooled their talents to survive below ground, the world pooled their talents above ground to save them. We are all unique individuals with unique abilities, which we should use to help others.
The second reason I watched, was for the pure happiness it gave me. The rescue allowed us to forget our own problems, like any other distraction. I think for a lot of people, it was a much needed respite from the usual depressing political and economic news. Maybe watching the families reunite gave us a moment to recharge and recalibrate – to realize just what is important in this world.
When these kind of amazing stories happen, it’s inevitable that the characters in the story will be granted a sort of legendary status, becoming unforgettable to an entire generation. The Chilean miners have been described almost as saints, called heroes, been ascribed attributes such as “resilient”, but I’m going to take an unpopular stance … As horrific as their ordeal was and as intelligent and strong as they were to survive, they are not saints or heroes, and they are no more resilient than most other human beings who find themselves in a situation where they must fight for their lives.
The Chilean miners are men – and flawed men, just like the rest of us. Perhaps none has exemplified that as publicly as Yonni Barrios – the miner who had both a wife and mistress show up to the site calling his name, (and word has it, he isn’t the only one who had multiple women claim him.)
But the truth is, all of the miners have skeletons in their closets, just like the rest of us – and I’d be willing to bet that the contract they signed with each other in the mine was that they’d never tell a soul about the things they must have confessed to each other during the days when they thought they might not make it out.
And while the miners have captured the world’s attention, there are human beings who never get to tell their stories, who are never praised for their survival, who are suffering in all kinds of situations every day all over the world; from starvation, poverty, illness, separation from family or homeland, to loneliness, unjust incarceration, abuse, slavery, and mourning. It is the human condition, and those of us who are not touched by the worst of this kind of suffering are the lucky minority.
It may seem I’m being cynical – on the contrary! This should give you hope! What I’m saying is that, like the miners, though we are not saints, we all have hidden reserves of strength, we all have the ability to pull through difficult times. We all have the capacity for faith in something greater than us no matter how “religious” we consider ourselves. We all have the ability to be reborn in this world, to change our ways. Each day that you wake up and feel the sunshine upon your face, it is another chance to try again.
(Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world…Strive to be happy.”
-Desiderata/ Max Ehrmann