Pause, think and forget about the Chilean miners
You may be watching (or watched) the release of the trapped Chilean miners on TV. You may have followed it in news stories on Twitter. Or possibly even appreciated the graphics which detailed how their retrieval from deep underground has been made possible. Like me, you may possibly have sense an unerring and seemingly inexplicable sense of impending euphoria at the release of these men.
It’s human nature. We’re bound to get swept along by it, even though everyone the world (except a tiny minority of friends and relatives) don’t know them. They are a group of men with dirty faces and filthy vests who haven’t seen daylight for two months. They are the Chilean miners. That’s how we know them.
What we marvel in is their survival. Not for their sakes but for our own. It buoys our spirits. It gives us hope. It underpins our occasional wavering sense of determination. In those dark moments when we’re discouraged we latch on to breathtaking examples of human endeavour. It those moments which push us back on the path.
Somewhere in the back of our minds we justify our fascination with the plight of a group of men we don’t know and are never going to meet in person with the belief that something of ourselves is in that mine. Just as they are brought to the surface and released from their suffering so we will be too.
But, we should pause and reflect as they do see daylight (albeit through dark glasses so their retinas don’t get burnt) that their lives have changed irrevocably.
They will, from tomorrow onwards, be hounded both literally and metaphorically. People – people with dramatisations in their heads and audiences to satisfy – will want to make contact with them. They’ll chase. They’ll offer. They’ll persuade. They’ll lean. They’ll do whatever they can to get a story from one of them. They’ll think there’s an audience who will want to know every last detail of what that experience was like for them. And they’ll think that because they know that every one of us does have a little part of our brains reserved for such fascination that it’s OK to stop at nothing to seal the deal.
Which is why I say we should forget about the Chilean miners. Their deeply traumatic experiences – including the anecdotes of positivity in the face of adversity – are not our property. We do not have a right to know how they felt to be down there. We shouldn’t think that we do. If we have respect, if we are sensitive, if we are decent human beings then we should leave them be.
They have enough to deal with. So too their families. Because far from being released from their confinement they are .. unless we keep our own appetites in check at any rate .. about to suffer a different kind of trauma. If they’re unwillingly thrust into the media spotlight they will be trapped for the rest of their lives.
The picture used in this blog post is called ‘Trapped’ and was published by Flickr user Denis Messie. It’s used here in accordance with the Creative Commons Licence.