5 Lessons From the Uplifting Chilean Mine Rescue

Whose God saved the miners? Did the rescue somehow save NASA?

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All 33 miners have been rescued from the San Jose mine in Chile and given a clean bill of health. It was a fantastic feat of ingenuity and perseverance. Of course, like any headline grabber, there are different takeaways coming from different pundits. Here are five of the lessons being drawn from the heroic rescue:

  • The Rescue Disproves Ruthless Capitalism, says Chris Matthews at MSNBC:

The message coming out of the Tea Party people, and lot of them are good people, is every man for himself, basically. "No more taxes, no more government, no more everything. No more safety net. No more health care for everybody. Everybody just get out there, make your buck, save it, screw the government, move on." ...You know these people, if they were every man for himself down in that mine they wouldn't have gotten out. They would have been killing each other after about two days.

This is a story of how people can work together, the people who were down there for two months. The people who were above ground from all over the world, using state of the art equipment not to get rid of the need for manpower but to save manpower in this case.
  • No, Capitalism Saved the Miners, counters Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal:

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men? Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit.

This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. ...

Longer answer: The Center Rock drill, heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo, is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit. That's why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.This profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at that Chilean mine. The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany. Japan supplied the super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above.

  • God Saved the Miners, says Mario Sepulveda, one of the rescued miners speaking to CNN:
During the time he was trapped inside the mine, Sepulveda said, he saw both good and evil.

"I was with God, and I was with the devil. They fought, and God won," he said. Sepulveda said he grabbed God's hand and never doubted that he would be rescued.
  • Everybody's God Saved the Miners, writes David Gibson at Politics Daily:
Different churches are laying claim to inspiring divine intervention in the remarkable rescue, giving short shrift to the impressive technological achievement of the Chilean engineers (and a giant U.S.-made drill) in their efforts to get a leg up on the competition for souls in South America's newly diverse religious marketplace.

"God has spoken to me clearly and guided my hand each step of the rescue," said Carlos Parra Diaz, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor at the San Jose Mine in Chile's mountainous Atacama Desert. "He wanted the miners to be rescued and I am His instrument."

A Pentecostal and an evangelical pastor also worked the site, and American evangelicals with the Orlando-based Campus Crusade for Christ sent each of the miners an MP3 player containing the entire New Testament and "The Story of Jesus," the audio adaptation of the famous "Jesus Film."

...when contact was made with the miners, they also requested that statues of the Virgin Mary and the saints and religious pictures be sent down, in addition to a crucifix... And the miners all signed a flag that was ferried up and sent to Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.

  • The Miners Saved NASA, writes Ned Potter at ABC News:

The Chile experience has been a ray of light for NASA, whose people may feel they sometimes are trapped in darkness themselves. While the agency has expertise that helped in the mining drama -- for instance, how to take care of people in confined places (like astronauts) -- its primary mission (where to send those astronauts next) has been muddled, the subject of acrimonious debate between the Obama administration and members of Congress.

Experts say NASA can be very, very effective when its mission is clear. ...

But since the glory days of Apollo, the space program has struggled to find clear goals for its astronauts. Their future has been hotly debated this year -- one reason a success in Chile has been so welcome.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.