The extraordinary drama of the miners’ rescue in Chile’s San Jose mine has highlighted some fundamental truths about human nature.
Played out against a backdrop of world media attention, the tale of the trapped men and the families who waited for their safe return has made so many of those watching pause to consider those essential human qualities of compassion, courage, hope and dignity – as well as the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
In a world where we are accustomed to 24 hour news reporting, the news teams related not only the progress of the rescue operation, but also the stories of those who waited, capturing their hope and dignity but without sensationalism or overt intrusion. The courage and spirit of the trapped miners is, of course, without question.
Any gaps in reporting were filled with summaries of the rescue operation so far, rather than the padding to which we have become accustomed, an example of dignity along with sensitive reporting, which is so welcome.
There must be few who are unmoved by the scenes which we have witnessed and one scene, small in the scale of the whole operation, touched me deeply.
A small boy, 8 years old, waited with his mother as his father was taking his turn in being transported to safety. Struggling to contain his tears, his small shoulders were hunched, his fists clenched. His mother, clearly wrestling with her own emotion was only able to offer an occasional distracted rub across his shoulders.
This was noticed by the rescue team who would attend to the capsule as it reached the surface. Clustered around the boy, the men and women of the team offered hugs and reassurance. They examined his hard hat, exchanging it for one with a lamp (just like Daddy’s) and much attention was paid to getting the fit exactly right. One of the team managed to elicit the vestige of a smile from the boy’s trembling lips.
Focused as they were on the magnitude of the job in hand, they still noticed the distress of this little boy and moved as one in compassion to ease his anxiety.
The hope and goodwill from around the globe which has been directed to the miners and their families has been uplifting in a world that frequently seems to have gone mad.
The social media networks have been deluged with messages reporting the progress of the rescue, along with fervent hopes for the miners’ safe return and good wishes to all their loved ones.
It’s a reminder which we badly need, that humankind is fundamentally good: kind, decent, honest and – above all – compassionate.