What an extraordinary bunch of men. The story of the Chilean (and one Bolivian) miners who survived a mine collapse has entranced the world. Humanity put on its best face: the Chilean President, beset with all manner of problems - mainly financial, and mainly not of Chile's own doing (look to Wall Street, brother) - stepped up and put his credibility on the line when he said that rescue efforts must carry on..
And his gamble paid off. After seventeen days, contact was made with the missing men, and there had been no fatalities. There were 33 of them, trapped 700 metres underground.
You'll know the story. Today was the day they winched the last miner to safety. The Chileans called in nhelp from around the globe: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America, South Africa. NASA stepped in, with boundless generosity and expertise.
I was thrilled by the whole story. Of course, god got a lot of the credit for the hard work and ingenuity of everyone who gave of themselves for the rescue, and that in its own small way is a measure of the humility, dignity, grace, and nobility of humankind.
And already the unimaginative media are already getting it wrong. I heard the miners today described as "celebrities". They are, of course, nothing of the kind. They are miners. They're certainly famous.Made so by the circumstances they found themselves in. But in a day when a celebrity is someone with falsely white teeth, perfectly botoxed skin, and a photogenic backside, these men are so much more than mere celebrities.
They were also described, mistakenly in my opinion, as "heroes". Brave, yes. Resourceful, definitely. Tough - without a doubt. But heroes? No. They've done nothing more ( and what a nothing it is! Brava! Brava!) than to survive in conditions that would kill or cripple - physically and/or mentally - most other people. They are, folks, survivors.
They have, by their forebearance, fortitude, courage, resourcefulness, patience, good will, and trust in their fellow humans, set an example that the rest of the world should take note of, and try to emulate.
Unfortunately, in these days of ten-minute wonders, their story and example will be brushed off our screens and front pages by the ongoing antics of parasites and wastrels such as Paris Hilton and Simon Carrow (Calloow?)... oh, whatsisname.
For two months, humanity glowed. Would that the glow could be fanned into a fire that would light our way to understanding what we could acheive if we would just set our minds to it.
READING: Scott Turow, "Ordinary Heroes". So far, so good. Also Joe Haldeman, "Starbound".
LISTENING TO: Rodrigo e Gabriela, "11-11"