2018-07-11 / Editorial

Survival is in the human DNA; it preserves the human race

About politics and other things
By Elaine Kolodziej

“You must form a clear and definite mental picture of what you want. You cannot transmit an idea unless you have it yourself.” — Wallace D. Wattles

Certainly the 12 soccer players and their coach who were trapped deep within a cave for more than two weeks held fast to a “clear mental picture” of being rescued. Their psychological state was just as important as anything physical. Before the boys could survive this ordeal, they had to believe they could.

The team went missing after entering a popular cave following a soccer practice on June 23. It has been a harrowing story of international intrigue.

It is the monsoon season in Thailand, and typical of the monsoons is that the rain is heavy, comes up quickly, and can last for days.

When the rains began flooding the cave after they entered, the boys went deeper trying to find high ground. They ended up trapped two-and-a-half miles inside the cave, where a team of British cave divers found them. The youngest members were reported to be 11; their coach, only 25. When discovered, they seemed in surprisingly good shape and in good spirits.

I can’t even imagine the anguish that families of those trapped must have experienced as they watched the events unfold. There was elation when they were first discovered after more than a week, but the elation soon gave way to the reality of a nearly impossible rescue attempt.

Experts from around the world offered support and guidance. Finally the threat of continued heavy rains left no options. With the lack of oxygen and the threats of continued flooding, they began the harrowing rescue.

They successfully brought up four of the weakest of the team on Sunday, and on Monday continued by rescuing several more players.

It was remarkable that the boys had managed to stay together and remain calm after more than two weeks in a totally dark, damp cave. For the first nine days, there was no contact with the outside world at all.

This rescue reminds me of the 33 Chilean miners, only multiplied tenfold in its enormity and complexity. In 2010, an accident had trapped miners for 69 days before they were rescued. However, they had some contact with the outside world, and limited supplies that are stored in mines for such cases. I followed that incident intently as well. There is something about the human DNA that allows people to come together against all odds.

In the case of the miners, they were all adults, had some supplies, an air supply, and did not have water to deal with. They managed to hold together until they were rescued.

The situation in Thailand was made more critical because of the continued threat of flood waters, and an oxygen supply that was decreasing rapidly. Time was not on their side. Theirs was a rescue of massive, massive proportions. Just locating the boys was a feat in itself. Then to organize a rescue attempt under unbelievably difficult circumstances seemed formidable.

On Monday, reports were that four more had been rescued and taken to a hospital. It’s been a remarkable story of human beings helping other human beings, as prayers continued for their complete recovery and the rescue of the remainder of the team and their coach.

What kept the team going? I thought of the Gospel reading and Father Jorge’s homily at Sacred Heart Church on Sunday. From 2nd Corinthians, Paul had to learn not to focus only on a thorn in his flesh, but to focus on his graces. Surely if these kids had focused only on their “thorns,” they would have given up long before they were found.

As we went to press on Monday, we were praying for the successful rescue of the remainder of the team, and for the safety of the rescuers themselves.

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