Saints and Sinners

I don’t personally know the way to the San Jose mine or its workings, but I’m glad others did and that some ground-breaking rescuing went on this week in the Operation San Lorenzo. When I was briefly an engineer, I was told that if you looked up Boring in the Yellow Pages, you were advised to See Under Civil Engineering. Unfortunately for urban mythology, said text no longer prints this little gem. Unfortunately for boring, sometimes in life you have to prove that you are more than your name.

Boring it was not. I cried when I saw my first live miner emerge. It was on a par with watching a birth, and had shocking parallels. There was a long wait, nervous expectant families, then a body emerging head first, checks for vital health, loud screams, and all the rest. I guess babies rarely greet daylight with sunglasses on, but perhaps Oakley have missed a major marketing opportunity here: a little Acornley line for 2011 is in the offing I am sure.

Now the dust is settling, people are curious about all the things they should know better not to be curious about. How many women can one miner need? Is a proposal more serious for having taken place under duress? What is the right pronounciation of Chile? Did they leave anything important behind in the mine? What is the Queen really going to do with her piece of Copiapo?

I am curious about how I would have fared if stuck with 32 of my colleagues or friends at any given time in a similar predicament. I am certain I would not have had the survival know-how that the group leaders relied on. I would not have even known where the tin can opener was kept or what to do if there wasn’t one. I would hope that I would have been part of the solution rather than the problem, perhaps in terms of group harmony and thinking of ways of passing time. However, I know I am no saint, and would have had my rocky moments too. I would have been grateful for the variety of those around, so that there would have been others to support and be supported by.

Another parallel I cannot ignore is that of redemption. The miners, dependent on being rescued by others could do no more than make loud noises and petitions in the hope someone would realise their need. Seemingly abandoned away from life and all that is good, they had to trust and hope that rescue would come. Rescue for all, saint or sinner. It matters little whether preacher or scoundrel. All needed rescuing. The palomas that sent good things kept them inspired and sustained. Paloma is the Spanish for Dove, as I understand it. The process of rescue involved much cost and for others to descend to where the miners were, to give them the chance of freedom. The parallels go on. I wonder how many books will be written about it. For now, here is a clip which got me thinking, especially after chatting with dad about the words on the shirts of the freed miners.

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