Inspiration over Desperation... and More?
Thursday, 14 October 2010 10:51

Chilean Miners Rescued as a Result of United Effort:

Though one in five American homes is in or near foreclosure, and the mood in the United States has, for some time, been one of unprecedented desperation, millions of viewers united, with a shared focus and with inspiration over the Chilean rescue effort.

There is no doubt that people from around the world, not just in the United States, were long overdue a “feel good” moment. However, there is much more that we can draw from the rescue process and the imprisonment of these men that can be both lasting and urgently educational.Chile_mine_rescue1The rescue effort itself brought representatives from countries around the world to assist on site – one expert volunteered and left his life in war-weary Afghanistan to participate. Special equipment and expertise were shared from even more countries, from within which citizens remained involved and riveted throughout. Put simply, countries, governments, and populations united over the saving of 33 miners’ lives. However, the even more astounding story is that of the men themselves. Never in contemporary human history have this many men (or any number of humans) survived, physically intact, a half a mile underground. In fact, that they did not resort to what is viewed as a kind of “normative savagery” is the most remarkable of the two inspirational miracles.

When human beings are trapped in groups, deprived of usual light, comfortable temperatures, dryness, family, food, water, sanitation, privacy and, at times, hope, they typically soon turn on each other. This has been the case in well publicized “climbs gone wrong” at Everest and in the surviving aftermath of airline crashes. And, from what we already know, these men, the miners, saw and felt the signs of their own survival instincts turning to barbarism. However, somehow, and, impossibly, they collectively organized and nipped a messy tragedy in the bud. These (previously) unremarkable men have made behavioral psychological history.

A Chilean miner is rescuedWe will know more in the days and months to come. The shared chills and thrills will wear off, especially for the miners. They will face new horrors in about four weeks - the end of the honeymoon period that follows prolonged states of entrapment and deprivation. Already, each has been confronted with gifts of large sums of money, endorsement deals, jobs, lucrative media opportunities, and offers of travel and luxury. Given what they have given us in the way of tangible hope for the human condition, let’s hope their spit and vinegar does not dissipate under the seduction. Or, more importantly, that their persistent courage does not abandon them when they might need it most – back in the light of the commercial day when even something sacred can be turned into a commodity.

So far, well done – we rejoice with you, and thank you for making it to the surface, and bringing with you the gift of hope.

Some Points on How to Survive Entrapment

If one is trapped and/or deprived, there are some basic principles one can apply to one's circumstances to drastically increase chances of survival.

  1. Assess the situation and take stock of all any injuries and life-sustaining resources.
  2. If one is part of a group, deal up front, with what you will and will not do or resort to as a group. This exercise should be repeated when necessary.
  3. Collectively decide on an area (any area, of any distance), away from the group, where all agree to eliminate waste.
  4. Commit to persistence. Talk about what it means. Continuously refresh the collective memory and individual memories about the key and critical role that persistence plays in survival.
  5. Collectively manufacture hope when hope diminishes. One cannot persist without hope.
  6. Assign tasks. Make them up. Create games and tasks, rituals with whatever is at hand. Structure.
  7. Create the illusion of light and dark in order to establish as close as possible a balance in the human biological cycle or circadian rhythm. This cycle dictates how we think, eat or manage not eating, how we feel, and how we control our feelings.
  8. Collaborate over all and any problems. One participant’s problem is the group's problem.

photos: Chilean gov't


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