Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hurray for the human race

Like the rest of the world, or at least large chunks of it, we awoke this morning to reports that the first few trapped Chilean miners had been rescued. What wonderful news. I’m sure millions of us have been imagining with shuddering dread what it must have been like down there: fear, darkness, heat, dirt, boredom, loneliness, overcrowding – all these would be part of most people’s worst nightmares, I’d think.

Although it must have been an unimaginably horrific experience for the 33 men, it was uplifting to watch, as we rushed to get ready for work, the third man coming to the surface. I had tears in my eyes. And I’ve remained uplifted throughout the day - mainly because the men are safe, of course, but also because for once it’s a news item in which human beings are shown in a positive light. It appears that the miners have been impressively stoical; the rescuers have battled for weeks to bring off the very difficult technical feat of retrieving them from half a mile underground – and have been successful; and the families have been steadfast in their vigil at the rescue site. The result: much joy, many congratulations and lots of reunited families.

No doubt there will be less encouraging tales emerging in the next few weeks and months. It seems likely that many of the rescued men will be plagued by nightmares and panic attacks once the euphoria of rescue has abated – we’re not witnessing the end of the story when we see them emerge blinking into the light. But still – for once I feel quite proud to be a human.

One detail from this morning lodges firmly in my mind. According to this morning’s news, the rescue cage went down for the first time with a paramedic in it. Now, I realise that the miners had been stuck deep underground for three months; but they had no choice. What sort of hero would you have to be to volunteer to try out the cage (agh) and then to stay down in that pit of horror (ohh) until – presumably – the last man has been rescued? What thoughts would go through your head as the cage moved up and away, leaving you alone under tons and tons of rock?

He’s a braver man than me, that’s for sure.


Meanwhile, one of my students writes, “I at last secame to temptation.”

There’s a logic there. If you think that you secome to temptation, then the past tense would be “secame”. Dyslexia rules, KO.


  1. We had very similar feelings as the rescue became the main item on our 6 pm News.It was so uplifting to have a good news story. We felt extra proud when it was explained that a Kiwi had played a major part in designing the rescue monitoring devices worn by each of the miners. ( monitors their vital signs etc )
    I realise the rescue attempt will still be going on as I write, in order for them all to be back above ground.

  2. It's been compulsive viewing throughout the day, albeit sometimes rather tear-inducing. I feel sick at the thought of getting inside such a capsule, even above ground, in full daylight. Astonishing that people will go down there willingly. But this whole saga has been one of immense courage and fortitude; astonishing and uplifting to watch.

  3. Isn't it incredible that this breathtaking rescue has united so many worldwide well-wishers? Bravo! We need more of these wonderful stories!

  4. yes ... for once ... some good news ... maybe the media will learn a lesson from all of this - people want to hear POSITIVE stories in this life

  5. Wondeful to have good news for once, isn't it. The horror of being trapped under ground is awful to contemplate. Brave men all of them - rescuers and rescued.

  6. Yes, indeed! This has been in my mind too for much of the past few days, and not a few hours of the past few nights when I couldn't sleep and turned on the radio to the BBC World Service. It's so good to know that they are all out safely and to think of the skill and dedication poured into the feat of getting them out - the risks and difficulties of which I don't have the engineering knowledge to anything like fully understand or appreciate.

    The ways in which good news is rarely news and the news we hear daily serves so overwhelmingly only to depress and dismay and convince us of the worst side of human nature is something I often think about and feel angry about. I used to work in international politics and listen to/ read / watch all the international news obsessively several times a day. I've almost stopped in recent years, not because I care less about what's happening in the world, but because I can't bear it, can't take it all in and still carry on with my own daily life.

    The inspiration of this story and the overwhelming response to it has reinforced this view still further. I know it would take more than one story, however amazing, to change things. But let's hope the memory will be a strong one that stays with many news reporters and editors.

  7. I have been GLUED to this story and think I saw 15 or so of Los 33 come out. Each and every time it made me cry, watching the family reunion. I think the best part of this good news story was how long it lasted - 2 days (for me, 23 hours for them) of watching joy and courage and resourcefulness and love and hope.

    I was also fascinated with the last of the rescuers, the man who had to strap himself into the Fenix 2 on his own after waiting by himself. But he was superb. He was on the phone to the people above during his last vigil and made a magnificent bow to the camera just before he climbed aboard. Such courage.

  8. Secame! That's awesome -- I think I'll add it to my vocabulary. That made me laugh out loud.

    Hasn't that miner story been amazing? It brought tears to my eyes too -- I wish all mining disasters could end with such happy results. The news said they were lucky in that they were in the "safe" area where the food and supplies were stored when the collapse happened. How to be in the right place at the wrong time....

  9. Uplifting indeed!

    I haven't been here for so long, and have just been catching up, nice to see you again.

  10. Thank you Isabelle, for your comment on my eulogy. My compliments in return, on your post about the miners in Chile - beautifully written with your unique perspective as always.

  11. I so agree with you...for once I too was proud of people again...I do so often despair of mankind that this was just lovely to see...people wishing and praying and pulling together.

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