A Mother and her Two Daughters

15 October 2010

The Will To Survive: Lessons from 34 Chilean Miners

Did you watch the remarkable news coverage of the Chilean miners’ final rescue?  I sure did, being one of millions completely captivated as the 33 men were pulled to the surface one-by-one in a flawless ascent inside a capsule called Phoenix. 

The story began on August 5th when an estimated 700,000 tons of rock collapsed closing off the main section of the mineshaft.  It would be five days before the dust would settle, allowing the team to assess their situation.  And it wasn't good.  One half mile below, they were trapped in a large open space of about 1200 ft long.  Resources were limited, communications was not available and they would be sustained for more than two weeks with only a two-day supply of food.  It would be 17 longs days before they were able to establish any contact with the outside world. 

Then the 10-week wait for the rescue. But through it all, the miners remained hopeful, reminding themselves that all 33 survived a severe collapse.  As one miner said, “I realized I didn’t die.  This kept me from being so frightened.” 

The word “miracle” is often over-used these days, but for the miners and their families and friends, this successful rescue really does seem like a miracle.  However, it’s also a testament to the human spirit and the extraordinary will to survive against all odds. 

Extreme circumstances can bring out the best in the human Spirit – create an accompanying spirit of extreme resilience.  Unfortunately though, during tough times like this, there are some who immediately cling to a sense of defeat or hopelessness. 

The other day I learned about a woman with a recent diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  And the word is she has already given up.  Someone said to me, “I wish you could visit with her.”  And I would, except she has no interest in hearing from a survivor like me.  Evidently she has already given up.  

It is my hope that this woman, and all the other men, women and children fighting cancer, had the chance to watch the inspiring rescue of the Chilean miners.  In the weeks ahead, we should all read about the miners’ unfortunate but uplifting story of survival for 69 days, one half mile under ground, dark and humid and without the simple pleasures of life, isolated from those they love, and uncertain about their own destiny.  It could be this story of survival that might transform others from a feeling of catastrophic thinking to an empowered sense of hope. 

The Chilean miners taught us all a few good lessons about hope and the will to survive:  
·      Courage is the answer to defeating hopelessness and despair.  If you’re not wearing your courage, get out there quick and find it. 
·      Refuse to let hopelessness or fear's chaos upset the enduring bond with creation.  As one miner said, “There were actually 34 of us because God never left us down there alone.” 
·      Brotherly love is good.  Learn that there is magic in supporting one another, that energy and determination can be tenfold when we rally together.
·      When you are afraid, try singing songs with your friends.  If not Elvis, then find other songs that uplift or create laughter.
·      It is only through darkness that we can search for and appreciate the light. 
·      While hope and unity restore the soul, be aware that they can be found in the most unlikely places, including a dark copper mine 2000 feet underground.    

Never before have human beings survived being buried alive for such a long time.  That alone is a beautiful story.  But the miners’ incredible will to survive will remind me daily that while cancer may have stolen a part of my body, cancer will never take away my fighting spirit. 

Chi Chi Chi!  Le Le Le!  Viva Chile!  

1 comment:

  1. Perfect (o)(o) Perky (*)(*) Cold (^)(^) and Big ( o )( o ) or Small (.)(.)
    Fake (+)(+) and old like Grandma's \./\./


    I liked this post on my facebook and wanted to share



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