unPHILtered – Phil Ponce's Blog

Life-Affirming TV

It’s been hard to take my eyes off the coverage of the rescue of the Chilean miners.  The images have been riveting.  When the rescue started and the first rescuer went down in the capsule, my wife and I had our hearts in our throats.   Watching the capsule disappear down the narrow tube underscored the bravery of anyone who would make that journey.  And, as the big wheel that was feeding the cable turned slowly, we watched as if it were the wheel of life.

I was not expecting to see live coverage from inside the underground chamber as the waiting miners greeted the capsule.  It was other worldly.  And it was eerie to see the capsule repeatedly leave the chamber with a rescued miner inside.  A camera mounted on top of the capsule made its progress look like images of arthroscopic surgery.

I don’t think there’s been another event since 9/11 that has captured the world’s viewing attention like this.  And unlike 9/11, which generated anguish and anger and made you sick to your stomach, this rescue is having an emotional payoff of relief and exultation.  As one of the Spanish-language anchors said, anyone who isn’t moved by the scenes doesn’t have a heart:  a young boy’s reaction to seeing his father emerge, the charismatic miner who exuberantly emerged and led an impromptu cheer, the miner who dropped to his knees in prayer on reaching the surface and then held his wife in a long embrace.

And the images have been underscored by the eloquence of the miners and their families.  Speaking of the ordeal a half-mile below the surface, one miner said, “It was a struggle between God and the devil.  And God won.”  Indeed, this is an event where the better angels of human nature, perseverance, and ingenuity are lifting the miners to safety.  I’ve been lifted, too.

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Son, Which One Are You?

Yesterday I went to watch my son Anthony run in the Chicago marathon.  My other son and his fiance picked me up bright and early to catch a glimpse of the running Ponce and we picked a spot on the North Side, near mile 8.  According to reports, there were about 40,000 runners.  At first there’s just a trickle of elite runners, then the crowd gets thicker and thicker.  By the time marathoners of Anthony’s caliber got  to our spot, it was pretty much wall-to-wall runners.

The three of us furiously scanned the crowd–eyes darting over the sea of singlets and running caps.  My eyes would sweep a group, then quickly focus on a person who looked like Anthony.  I repeated that process hundreds of times.  Groups would go by with someone carrying a sign indicating the finish time that group was aiming for in hours and minutes.  There were signs for groups aiming to finish in 3:00, 3:10, 3:15 and so on.  We knew Anthony’s goal was 3:10.  But when that group went by, we didn’t see him.

Finally a group went by carrying a sign that said 3:45.  In that group was a guy running inside an unwieldy, 5-foot-tall scale model of the Eiffel Tower.  That’s when we knew we had simply missed Anthony in the crowd earlier.  It was frustrating.

So we left the race course exhausted from the eye strain and concentration — and with an odd sideways kind of vertigo from the repetitive eye movement.  As for Anthony — he wound up finishing with a good, solid time–well ahead of the group with the Eiffel Tower.  Anthony may not be an elite runner, but he can outrun the dang Eiffel Tower, for crying out loud.  No offense to the French.

Posted in Phil Ponce, unPHILtered | 3 Comments