The miners in Chile were trapped early in August. They spent 17 days with little food and no way of knowing whether people were still searching for them. They were trapped over 2000 feet under the ground, but fortunately they were in a large area in which they could move around. They were together, with the social structure of their group to help them cope, but as a group, they were alone.
After 17 days one of the probes reached them, and the families and people across the country and the world found out that the miners were safe. There were then two tasks for the Chileans. The first was to get survival food and materials down to the miners. We cheered with them when the narrow shaft allowed communication and supplies. The second task was to drill a shaft big enough and safe enough that the men could be brought up. That task took longer, and while it made use of equipment and procedures from Pennsylvania, NASA, and many other countries, it was the work of Chile that made it all successful.
The plight of these 33 miners in Chile became personal because we learned their names, we watched their families gather, and we heard their stories. The communication shaft provided for messages between the miners and their families, and some of them were shared with us. One miner watched the birth of his baby, which they named Esperanza, or Hope, through the video connection. There were difficulties as at least one married man was contacted by his girlfriend. The more we heard about their lives, the more these men became part of our lives. We heard about requests for music by Elvis Presley or Bob Marley. All of these stories have made these men real to us, as if we were also friends of theirs.
We heard about the organization of the men trapped so far under the ground and about their leaders who followed through on their responsibilities to their workers even while underground. Luis Alberto Urzua was the last miner to be rescued, as he was the shift supervisor, and did not want to leave until every one of his men was safe.
We kept our hopes alive while the rescue workers drilled a shaft wide enough for the cylinder cage to go down with a rescue worker to show it was ready. We mentally cheered with the crowds for each and every man who was brought to the surface to greet his family, the workers, and the dignitaries, including the President of Chile and his wife who met every one. The group of miners above gave as enthusiastic a cheer for the last man as the first. These people were there through all the hours to greet every miner. Those of us watching on television, sat with tears coming just the same as those who were there in person. Anyone who watched this story on the news and watched the rescue on television will understand what a moving and intense experience it was, just for those of us watching.
Human beings are tribal creatures. We do not seem to react to tales of numbers of people who are “over there” and not part of our clan. We may be concerned, we may want to do something about it, but we do not take it personally. This case is different because we have vicariously made these men and their families part of our clan as we became involved in their story.
This may be a lesson to others who are trying to get the attention and support to help people in need around the world. We seem to need to know some of the people personally and feel they are part of “us” before we can get emotionally involved in their plight.
Sources: CNN, FoxNews