Month: October 2010

October 18, 2010

Chile’s miners—free at last

Chilean Miners Rescued
Image from " The Guardian"

Rescue efforts for the 33 men trapped in Chile’s San Jose Mine have come to a triumphant close with the recovery of the last miner, Luis Alberto Urzua, the 54-year-old foreman credited with helping the men survive 17 days before they were discovered. Their 69-day ordeal—the longest entrapment in human history—is finally over.

I marvel at how the world has united behind these brave men and the Chileans determined to save them. Live video from within the mine and hourly news feeds have brought us closer to them—and to our own humanity. As we’ve grown to care about these 33 strangers, their plight and dignity despite it compels us to imagine the unimaginable: How would we cope, cut off from light and our loved ones, possibly forever?

But, who among us can truly understand what these men have endured while entombed 2,050 feet underground? One thing, however, is certain. They’ve survived the unthinkable, demonstrating an indomitable spirit that 700,000 tons of rock failed to crush.

Quoted in The Guardian, rescued miner, Mario Antonio Sepulveda, explains: “I was with God, and I was with the devil; they fought me, but God won. He took me by my best hand … and I held on to him. I never thought for one minute that God wouldn’t get me out of there. I believe that I had extraordinary luck. I believe this was a test … and I believe that we have the possibility to confront things in life … But I’m very happy that it happened to me because I believe it was the moment in which to make changes. The professionals who do all this publicity and television, the only personal thing I ask is for you not to treat us as celebrities or journalists. I want you to continue treating me like Mario Antonio Sepulveda, a worker, a miner.”

Free at last, Mario and his fellow miners have inspired us from the depths with their courage, fortitude and grace. Now safely home, they bring back these poignant lessons:

Just believe.

Our capacity for hope, faith and love can sustain us in our darkest hour.

Have purpose.

Working together toward a just and common end can move mountains—truly.

Never surrender.

Adversity can make us stronger by drawing out the best in us.

Be grateful.

We must cherish what and who really matters in our lives—always.

October 14, 2010

Lessons From a Humble Hero

I was deeply moved when I heard the story about Victor Perez, a Fresno man who rescued an eight-year-old girl from the clutches of a kidnapper last week. After spotting a pickup that fit a description aired on the morning news, quick-thinking Victor gave persistent chase, eventually forced the suspect to stop and helped free the young victim.

We can learn from Victor’s decisive actions that fateful morning. An unemployed construction carpenter, Victor had seen hard times, laboring in the local grape fields to support his family. His own difficult circumstances, however, were no reflection of his integrity or character, nor did they deter him from rising to the occasion when the stakes were high. Despite the inherent dangers, Victor performed a selfless act of courage that saved a child’s life, reunited a family and inspired a community.

Why did he do it? He just wanted to do the right thing. “It feels good to know that at least in my part, we still do care out there,” Victor said in a recent Good Morning America interview. “We don’t just close our doors and say forget about it. We actually go out there and see what we can do.”

Victor’s story shows the human spirit at its finest, and this humble hero sets the example to which we should all aspire:

  • Be compassionate and help those in need.
  • Be brave and take initiative to beat the odds.
  • Be great by doing great things.