Watching the rescue of the miners was truly exhilarating. Not only exciting and amazing but yes, exhilarating. To see the miners breathe the morning/night air (I don’t know if it was clean), was thrilling. Everyone I know was glued to their TV. And the best part, was not only them reuniting with loved ones, but getting welcome hugs from the President of Chile and assorted officials – as well as people involved in the rescue.
The first thing the American media commented on was how important American technology was to the rescue. It was kind of irrelevant, almost ‘we’re number one!’, at the time. American bravado in the midst of a touching moment… it is not surprising but rather a bit insensitive. Here the Chilean people are celebrating an accomplishment – the miners stayed alive underground for 70 days – and there we are stressing how important we were to getting them out of hole. Which, no doubt is true, but unnecessary amidst the hoopla of the Chilean families and friends.
It is hard not to look at this remarkable feat and not reflect a moment on what is important in life. And additionally, how great it is to see people behaving in such a positive way. Many of the TV correspondents compared this positivity to the negativity of the American political scene. It’s apples and oranges. The thing worth comparing is how American leaders demonstrate leadership. As I watched I couldn’t help but wonder if President Obama would have spent an entire day welcoming 33 miners back to earth. Or if any American politician would have considered spending their time that way, if they weren’t only interested in their public image.
We know that Mayor Giuliani was, and remained on the scene for the tragedy of 9/11. We also know President Bush was pretty much missing in action for the first day. Yes, we have all heard that security would not permit him to be anywhere where there is danger – but (here’s one you might not know), the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and whatever other security people butt in, make recommendations to the Commander in Chief but, because they are the Commander in Chief, they get to make the final decision about where they will be.
What was, was, as my mother would have said. But what would this President have done? Probably, he would have been advised by his small circle of advisers that spending a whole day in one place without raising money or awareness about an issue, was a waste of time. Sure it would be OK to drop by at the end, for the celebration or even as person #17 was saved (to slap a few backs and shake a few hands), but beyond that, it was not necessary. It would be wonderful to think he would have told his advisers to stick it, and just done the right thing. But would he have needed to ‘calculate’ the right thing? I hope not.
The TV Networks also commented on the fact that the President of Chile had some political problems so that’s why he was there. Isn’t it just possible that he really wanted to be there because he cared about what had happened, and he, like all Chileans, were pulling for these men. That’s what I want to believe.
Have we become so cynical that we are incapable of experiencing a real moment? That when all those people sang the Chilean National Anthem, they were doing it for show – or they expected some political return. Who knows anymore. If we see what politicians are saying about one another, and we look at the fractured paralysis in our own government, to have a real moment seems impossible. And yet, I think people are going to get good and sick of all the ugly and polarizing rhetoric, and they are going to insist on the truth and repeated real moments that carry the country forward. I hope it happens in my lifetime. We’re just sayin’… Iris