Amy Roberts: Thai cave rescue shows our capacity for hope is greater than our differences
As I write this column, rushing to meet my Monday morning deadline, a total of four young boys and their soccer coach remain trapped far underground in a cave in Thailand. By the time the printed version of this paper is tossed onto your porch, or electronically available, that number could very well change, and there’s no guarantee of success. With the unrelenting rain and limited oxygen, rescue teams have admitted it only gets more difficult with each hour that passes.
Millions around the world have been engrossed in this story — glued to their televisions, computers, and news apps — united in their hopefulness. Rescue teams from the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Australia are on the ground assisting the Thai divers. After receiving a plea to help via Twitter, billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk sent a group of his engineers to Thailand. Before leaving the States, they quickly built something resembling a small submarine vessel and shipped it off. I love reading the reports about this angle of the story. Musk makes it sound like his team just whipped up a batch of cookies quickly before jumping on a plane to Chiang Rai. No big deal, just waiting for the oven to preheat.
It’s uplifting to see so many global citizens feel personally invested in the outcome, waiting on communal pins and needles, sharing one common goal. No one cares about the race, religion, social or economic status, sexual preference, or political views of anyone trapped in that cave, or any of the people trying to save them. Nobody is tallying the cost of the rescue effort or pointing fingers of blame. I haven’t heard or read any “they should have known better” commentary. The Thai Navy SEAL diver who lost his life last week while trying to save the boys has been universally referred to as a hero.
As terrifying and dramatic as the whole thing is, it is also an inspirational reminder we can all come together, united in purpose, to achieve something that matters. Borders and skin color and who you pray to or who you vote for aren’t nearly as important as how we help one another.
It’s not the first time the world has symbolically held hands, consumed by what was happening underground. In 2010, over one billion people watched live as impossible odds were overcome, and 33 miners were pulled from a collapsed mine in Chile after being trapped far beneath the earth for more than two months.
I was in junior high when “Baby Jessica” spent two and a half days trapped in a well in Midland, Texas. This was long before information was instantly available and shared as fast as thumbs can move. Back then, you waited for the evening news or the morning paper for updates. My parents had a rule that the TV in our home must be off during dinner. It was the one time all day my family sat together and connected — canned sitcom laughter wasn’t allowed. But during those 58 hours in October of 1987, we ate our evening meals to the sound of Dan Rather’s voice as he provided a live play-by-play of the rescue attempts. We wanted to celebrate with the rest of the world when Jessica McClure was brought to the surface. When she was, humanity exhaled simultaneously.
While I wish we could find these moments of connectedness when not flirting with the possibility of horrific tragedy, it is my hope the spirit of this international rescue effort lives on — that we won’t quickly forget the comfort felt when we stand together, united in nothing more than the desire for a happy ending for each of the characters in whatever story we are following.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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Columnist Tom Clyde has been unable to nab a ski reservation so far, so instead he’s catching up on all the important animal-related news going on in the world.