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.