For those who sometimes wonder if we, as a species, are indeed much different from Neanderthals, Chilean miners’ rescue provided a resounding confirmation !
Suddenly, despite a surfeit of livid period dramas on TV and Films in recent years – of hapless gladiators rushed into premature deaths in vicarious arenas, unknown soldiers perishing by the thousands in meaningless wars, slaves and minions sent in shiploads to work as indentured laborers in unrelated geographies – all seem a distant thunder !
The fact that 33 lives trapped in a non-descript mine, in a desert tucked far away from civilisation, mattered more than $ 20 million – the cost incurred in rescuing them, with whole-hearted involvement of a nation’s high ranking officials, aided by best talent sourced from all around the world, is a potent message that humanism has prevailed. As powerful as the indomitable spirit shown by the miners themselves, during this chilling ordeal.
Equally, this jubilation neatly cements Chile to the pedestal of ‘Developed‘ countries. Chile’s journey, from ‘developing‘ to ‘developed‘ status, has been actively followed for many years now, more so because it has been the lone but credible Latin American contender for such upgrade. Well done, Chile. It’s not one off displays of how much money a country could spend per life, that sets the bar. It’s the palpable evidence that a whole nation could galvanise itself into a life-rescuing mission and afford to think about less fortunate lives that sets it apart from fiefdoms and dysfunctional democracies.
Ironically, the same week the world was glued to TV, Internet and all other forms of voyeuristic delight, watching footage and news – as one miner after the other materialised from the frightful 624 m deep shaft, in the antipode (not just metaphorically!) of Chile, a man singled out among 3 billion+ men in world, by Nobel Foundation to receive their coveted award, was barely aware of the news itself despite being 867 metres above mean sea level, in Jinzhou !
China too, like Chile, has been on a high-octane path to economic prosperity, pulling out millions out of wretchedness and poverty by urbanising and industrialising at a scorching pace. However, some fundamental misgivings, it would seem, never stops haunting them. The great wall of China was viewed as long cemetery by Chinese themselves, for centuries (an estimate has it that 10 million men perished building it) before West accorded it a ‘great’ prefix !
Chile, a long, thin country with maximum land width of 175 km, has somehow broadened its appeal to all and hence its potential too. It may seem daft to compare this country of predominantly European settlers/ lineage with a fledgling, populous Oriental superpower with a hoary but different past. However, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the sharp contrast in the value accorded to human life across geographies. Regardless of differences in skin colour, physical stature, religion professed or the language spoken, wouldn’t we ever see a day when all lives are of equal worth? Hopefully, someday!
For now, hats off to all Chileans, as they rightfully rejoice !