A Global Community Event

By Duane Shank 10-13-2010


Like millions of people around the world, I stayed up much too late last night, mesmerized by the live coverage of the miners being rescued in Chile. The pictures of the narrow capsule emerging from the ground, the door opening, and men who had been 2,300 feet underground for 69 days stepping out were extraordinary. And the joyous, tearful reunions with their families that followed were moving beyond words.

By far the most moving was a young boy waiting with tears in his eyes as the capsule came up. As the door was opened and his father stepped out, the boy ran forward and leaped into his arms. They hugged each other as both wept. And I, as I suspect many others, also wept.

The ongoing drama made me reflect on the true contribution worldwide cable news could make. Rather than the sensationalism of the latest scandals, the blathering of talk show hosts, and the attacks of political ads; the world was united in watching events unfolding on a remote plateau west of the Andes. The world was one in praying for the safe rescue of all 33 miners, and rejoicing as each one came to the top. There were stories of workers in Shanghai, Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, and a silver miner at home in Mexico City. Crowds gathered at an outdoor "watch party" hosted by the Chilean Ambassador in Washington, D.C.

It is a powerful example of how a commitment to truth and civility could use the power of television to bring us the truth, and to bring us together as people for the common good, "This is more than a story, it's a global community event," said Yuen Ying Chan, professor of journalism at the University of Hong Kong.

As I write this, 22 miners have been rescued; there are 11 remaining. We join the rest of the world in praying and hoping the rescue operation will be successfully completed.

Duane Shank is senior policy advisor at Sojourners.

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