Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chile - Mining and Community

The drama of the death defying rescue of  33 Chilean miners unfolding over the past 60 days or so, provided much scope for reflection. Some of my own thoughts in no particular order were about:

1. The resilience of human beings. During their first 17   days  trapped underground when the men had no idea if their plight or location were known or if rescue attempts were even being made let alone whether they would succeed, they still strove to stay alive.

2. The miners' Faith in God. - none of this Basil Fawlty style "thank you god" for landing me in this mess but rather the "Holy Spirit blowing where it pleases", giving rise to hanging on in there and then  thanking Divine Providence for survival and rescue: All being in the safe dining area when the collapse occurred; having left-over lunch scraps there by chance; water bottles fortuitously  in vehicles which happened also to be nearby;  vehicle batteries for some light, strong leadership; a quasi waterfall for washing and no killer gas such as methane was present  - luckily their mining was for copper rather than coal.

3. So now we know that humans' achilles heal as regards surviving in a small space over a long time, is in our gums and teeth. Before the Chilean miners' experiences began to be told, I do not recall teeth being regarded as a major hurdle to survival. In WW1 for example feet, trench foot and 'flu seem to have been the major obstacles other than bullets and bombs.

4. Chileans' ability to celebrate in community  together in basic  warm human  attractively down to earth , style, rather than in the affected  or over-sophisticated way  that sometimes applies in 'advanced' Western  nations. That so many Chileans  place their religious practices and beliefs so close to their hearts is clearly reflected in this whole drama yet such  fundamental aspect was hardly  commented upon in the British media at least. The Christocentric nature of Chilean Society and the positive effects that has not only on the men and their families but also on Chileans more generally,seemed to me tohave made huge impacts on what ocurred and the aftermath so far. I don't think that this 'no comment' is political or religious correctness at work  but rather  arises from a feeling that those aspects of Chilean life are naive, dated or irrelevant. My view is that by allowing those  same aspects in our society to become submerged in our new consumer based culture, we risk  our own lives  becoming shallower.

5.Are natural  disasters good for the soul?

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