Reporting on what really matters…
I thought I would take a moment and look back at last week’s events. And no, I’m not talking about the World Cup or, heaven forbid, the Helsinki summit fiasco!
No, what happened last week, in my view, supersedes by far an large these and many other media-crazed events. A week ago, on July 10, a miracle of human faith, courage, and human ingenuity happened on the other side of the world.
After more than two weeks of unimaginable anguish and uncertainty, rescue divers were finally able to extract 12 children and their coach from the depths of the Tham Luan Nang Non cave in Thailand.
But somehow, with all the World Cup madness and the last week’s international diplomacy hype, most news media giants have literally dropped the ball on an event that should continue to be reported and talked about as feverishly and constantly as the media events filling last week’s news channels.
You see, what transpired before, during and after the Tham Luan rescue operation was nothing short of remarkable and awe-inspiring.
The media have called it “miraculous”, using this word, in my humble opinion, very lightly, giving it free reign to bring ratings and drama to an incredible event that has been too easily forgotten already.
It is clear to me that many of the reporters that were present at the time of the actual rescue, broadcasting back to their respective networks, although doing it in a very professional manner, braving long hours and difficult weather conditions, absolutely had no idea of what the rescue attempt would mean for the kids and their rescuers on an emotional level.
And even though experts were invited to weigh in on their personal experience, it would have been adequate that at least one of the reporters would have had cave diving experience, to convey to the public exactly what these kids and their coach would be going through once the actual rescue got underway. Let me explain.
Putting it all in perspective…
Riviera Maya, where I have been living now for 10 years now, has a vast underground cave and river system, courtesy of a 10 to15 kilometer diameter asteroid impacting on earth during the dinosaur age.
This extinction level event forever changed the geology of the region, giving way to one of the largest underground river systems in the world.
The waters flooding this system are said to be sacred to the Maya. When you traverse one of these caverns, you can easily see why. The visibility and beauty of the place always take your breath away.
But there is also a dark side to this beauty. Danger and risk are always present when exploring these waters. Going through narrow crevasses, in deep, dark places, even with extraordinary visibility, is an experience not suitable for the faint-hearted or for the claustrophobic.
To safely journey through this system, even under ideal conditions, takes years of dive experience and a healthy set of stones.
If you have ever been in a broken elevator or a closed bathroom (and you can’t get out), you have a close sense of the emotional urgency and immediacy of that “Let me out!!” feeling. It’s creepy being trapped, without knowing how long it will take to be “rescued”.
If this has happened to you, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that the wait ALWAYS seems to take forever, right?
And that’s in dry ground, with ample lighting and resources for your eventual rescue.
Now take that same feeling of being trapped and place it deep inside a pitch black, wet cave, 4 miles from the entrance, where your only sustenance is water. Add to that water levels threatening to drown you at any moment.
Sort of puts things in perspective, huh?
Here’s how they all pulled it off…
What these kids, their coach and their rescuers faced was probably one of the most terrifying experiences that anyone could endure. And they faced this not for one hour, or one day or one week. They endured it for nearly 17 days. In such dangerous and adverse conditions that Saman Kunan, a 38-year-old former Thai Navy SEAL, died of asphyxiation on 6 July on his return to the cave entrance after delivering supplies of air to the interior.
On the danger scale, 1 being safest and 10 being the most dangerous, The Than Luan cave was flat-out 10. Not only for its natural geological configuration, a huge challenge in itself, but also for the difficult weather conditions which the cave system experienced during the actual rescue.
In the end, however, through incredible faith, courage, skill and human ingenuity, the 12 children and their coach were rescued last Tuesday, July 10. And after a week of rest and recovery, they have made their first public appearance, forever grateful for the support and dedication of everyone involved in their rescue.
Especially Saman Kuman, whose sacrifice speaks volumes of the better side of human compassion, dedication, sacrifice, and selflessness.
In a world so full of hatred, anger, and conflict, it is comforting to know that mankind can still shine a very brightly, even in undeniable dark and uncertain times.
Let’s pause for a moment and revel in the accomplishments of these real heroes and take their example whenever we, in our daily humdrum, face adversity and challenges. Their unwavering spirit and resolute attitude should be an inspiration to us all for years to come.
What makes someone a hero? What characteristics do you think make them stand apart? Forget the Avengers! These divers and these kids and their coach…they are the real deal.
Everyday people doing extraordinary things. Do you know anyone that inspires you and is your hero? Please share your experience in the comment box below. I would love to be inspired by your story!
Tks for reading and talk soon!