"I was with God, and I was with the devil. They fought, and God won". These are the words of Mario Sepulveda, one of the 33 Chilean miners who was trapped underground for 69 days at San Jose Copper mine in the Atacama Desert.
As we wind down 2010, many of us reflect on what the year has been about for us personally and for the world in general. I was searching for the world story that would underline the year for me. As I looked back through the newspaper pages, it was beginning to strike me as an ugly year. Some stories made me hang my head in shame. Some made me worry for the future. Most stories showed how conflict ridden this world had become, how mean and petty we had become. And then I regained hope as I remembered this remarkable story of Super Mario and the 32 other miners, of their resilience, of their defiance, of their indelible indomitable spirit. Mario said " We were swallowed into the bowels of hell but we have been reborn....." And then I realized, that this is what 2010 has been about in many ways. It has been about the indelible indomitable human spirit!!
So, I would easily vote for this Chilean story as my world story of 2010 that I want to remember and keep alive. This story of rescue that has many stories within. Stories of love, stories of hope, stories of leadership. The story of love is of Esteban Rojas, the eighteenth miner to see the light of day. He proposed to his sweetheart of many years from the mine below. "When I get out, let's buy the dress and we'll get married". The story of hope is of Ariel Ticona Yanez, the thirty second miner to come out from darkness. His wife had a baby girl when he was trapped in the mine. A baby girl who he saw after one month of her birth, a girl who he named Esperanza. How fitting that "Esperanza" means "Hope" in Spanish. The story of leadership is of Luis Urza, the last miner to reach safety. Urza was the shift foreman and he had to keep the 33 miners together through first 17 days of darkness with absolutely no contact to the outer world. He had to lead in extraordinary times. And like a true captain, he was the last man out. And not just these, there are many other stories of courage, stories of teamwork. Of Mario Gomez, the oldest miner at 63 who suffered from silicosis. Of Jimmy Sanchez, the youngest miner at 19 who is claustrophobic. Most of all, of "Los 33" who worked together as a team. Quoting Mario again, " Each day a different person took a bad turn. Every time that happened, we worked as a team, to try to keep the morale up. It was important to keep faith".
Most importantly, this is a story of the human spirit, of perseverance, of resilience. Underlining this is Edison Pena, the twelfth man to come to the surface, who ran the New York marathon within a month of his 69 day ordeal. Each coming back to life in their own different way, "Los 33" is my world story of 2010. Keep the faith, be resilient and shine in the glow of the indelible indomitable spirit this coming year. Happy 2011!!