Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 2010 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5771
Returned to Life
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle. We emerged to again see the stars.
--The last line of Dante's "Inferno"
The times were uncertain, as they always are. Wars raged, the after-effects of a financial panic still reverberated, and another political season was under way in
Then came the news that attracted the world's attention: Thirty-three men were entombed deep in a Chilean mine, cut off in the darkness. A rescue would require resources both technological and moral, a display of courage and initiative on the part of all involved, both above and under ground.
Impossible, the usual cynics had warned. Government and business, officials and private citizens work smoothly together despite all the odds? Yeah, the way they did when oil spilled into the Gulf day after day, week after week. Or in the disastrous aftermath of Katrina. The miners were lost, doomed to a slow death. Days passed, then weeks, as the wait lengthened.
The world held its breath. Could it be done? It was. Sooner and better than was thought possible. The president of
"We have done what the whole world was waiting for,"
The ordinary detritus of the news was swept away as the world watched in astonishment and,
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!
It may be whole days before the usual backbiting, finger pointing and second-guessing begin. It would be another monumental achievement if it never did. What a wonder it would be if, not only in crisis but in the course of human events, man remembered what he is capable of, and, remembering, raised his expectations of himself. And proceeded to live up to them, to exceed them. As did these miners. And their families. And all those technicians and advisers from around the world.
An audience of millions followed this human -- and humane -- story. First with trepidation, then celebration. And always with fascination. And with that secret weapon in every crisis, personal prayer. For once mankind was united in faith, hope and charity.
Yes, let us celebrate. For to celebrate triumphs is to assure that there will be more of them. In celebrating this one, let us rehearse all the qualities, the virtues and strengths, that made it possible. And so perpetuate them. There is indeed something wondrous about the stars in the night sky. If we would but remember to look up.
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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