Like so many others around the world, I found myself glued to my television, my laptop and any other from of electronic updates I could find on the fate of the 33 Chilean miners. Like so many others around the world, I cried quietly each time one was pulled from the depths of that mine. I kept thinking I just wanted to see the last one out, I wanted it to end marvelously, flawlessly and joyously. And so it did.
I am not Chilean, I have no connection to Chile whatsoever. Even after living in Miami for 15 years of my life, the center of all things Latin in this country I could count on hand how many Chileans I know. But I have a deep understanding of the Latin people and their culture and who they are from living almost half my life among them. So when I heard talks of what a "genius political move for President Piñera" or talk of how they might not be able to attempt a rescue for whatever reason, I knew the world had this country and its people pegged all wrong.
First of all, President Piñera is a billionaire. In Chile, he was one of the wealthiest and most powerful already. I don't believe he needed to rest the future of his political career on whether or not he proceeded with a rescue mission many thought to be quite risky. I don't believe politics was the motivator behind his decision to spare no expense in his rescue of these miners. To assert such is ridiculous and shameful. For Chile and Piñera, I'm fairly certain doing anything less than all they could, was never an option. Latin American people, both rich and poor, are family oriented and share a devotion to their largely Catholic faith and love of country with equal enthusiasm.
As I watched each one rise from ground and exit that tiny capsule, I couldn't help but grin as I teared up. Clean shaven, each one smiling, speaking of their gratitude towards their comrades, their love of their families, their country and God. Even after 69 days in a hole half a mile below ground unsure of their fate, they exited jubilant and proud. The world looks to them now as inspirational, as symbols of hope. They were just 33 ordinary guys doing a rather ordinary job. The world is full of unremarkable people doing remarkable things. It is often a blessing for all of us when an event like this occurs and shows us we are all remarkable, we are all capable and we all possess a human spirit far more powerful and resilient then we give ourselves credit for.
So before we talk about spouses and mistresses, book deals, TV appearances and the political impact, let's just take a moment to allow these men be an inspiration, a symbol of hope and of patriotism to the world. I believe they earned it. They are exactly what the world needs. A reminder that no matter how deep the hole is that you may be in, be hopeful, don't give up and smile when you rise above it. Let that be the lesson.
As Mario Sepulveda, the second miner to be pulled out put it as he spoke to reporters through sunglasses to protect his eyes,
"I think I had extraordinary luck. I was with God and with the devil, and I reached out for God."
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