On October 13, 2010, Chile, along with much of the world, breathed a sigh of relief. All 33 miners who had been trapped in a Chilean gold and copper mine since August 5, 2010, were successfully brought out of the earth and into the open desert. They smiled for the cameras, hugged family members, maybe cried a little, and went home. The play they had been the main actors in was coming to a close. All around them, the supporting cast was packing up too. They had given their all into this production for almost two and a half months, putting out their souls for everyone to see and rely on. Every actor in this little saga was feeding lines to each other, and gave each other support when some were forced front and center by circumstance. Instead of a character drama, it was an ensemble piece, where all the players contributed something.

Right after the collapse went public, volunteers poured into the area. Paying that number of people would have been difficult, but instead of demanding compensation, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They knew it was going to be a long hard job ahead of them, but the majority stayed and stuck it out, facing every challenge head-on.  The miners needed food as soon as possible or they would have starved or become dehydrated so volunteers started cooking and sending out the hundreds of meals the men and their worried families required, and even figured out a way to send the men hot food.  Volunteers comforted, built, donated, and did all the other small but necessary tasks required. The love the trapped miners got was tangible in the work tents, equipment, manpower, and donations they received daily.

Many other jobs done by professionals were required also. Supply tubes that were planned by engineers and built by construction workers were dug first, so that the men could receive necessary supplies. Nutritionists kept track of every calorie, every vitamin, and every supplement the miners ate. Psychologists monitored mood swings, all emotions, and everything the miners did or said to make sure they were not depressed. Doctors and nurses gave medical information, first aid advice, and the necessary attention when the men were rescued. A few brave souls were sent down the rescue tube to prepare the miners for rescue, full knowing that they, themselves, could die in a support failure or get stuck halfway. They were just doing their jobs, but it took dedication to not quit, to not give up, even when it was predicted that it could take many more months to successfully complete the rescue.

The prayers of thousands, even millions, went to the trapped miners. Of course, their own families, friends, and neighbors prayed for them to get out safely.  But perfect strangers from all over the world- people who talked, lived, and looked different from them, people who had never met them and probably never would- also prayed for their speedy rescue. Their hearts went out to them, in the same way they went out to Haiti, New Orleans, and to many other people who were victims of things they couldn’t control. They were not, could not be, individually recognized, and yet they knew that every time they asked God to help, every time they read a news story about it, they were helping, even in the tiniest way.

Finally, there are the men who were trapped together for two long months. The men who could have turned into animals, but managed to keep it together even when things seemed bleak. They supported each other, laughed, prayed, ate together. They followed routine, worked together, didn’t let any differences get in the way of rescue. Each had something to contribute, a special skill that they alone had. If they had given up on each other, some may not have survived. If one grew depressed, the others cheered him up. If when fell sick the others got him the things he needed to get better. They became almost a family, it seems like. There were a few who used their skills more often, like the man who took care of all medical problems, or the man who created the groups of men and the jobs each group did. They were, of course, instrumental to the groups survival, but weren’t the only solo’s in the song. Each man went to bed at night confident that he had done something that day that got them one foot closer to the surface. Every man in that dark, cramped, cold pit knew that the people around him were people he could rely on.

People need people. Without all the people who had pitched in, this drama could have easily have become a tragedy. Every person there in Chile, underground in the mine, and every person around the world who watched, prayed, and worked, gave each other reasons not to give up. The people who were onstage, in the spotlight, or behind the scenes, encouraged the main characters throughout the whole play. Humans rely on and give back support every day. We are all actors, and as we all should know, no production can succeed with just one person.

 

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