This is a troubled, turbulent time in the history of mankind. Civil wars, religious wars, persecution inflicted on the weak by the powerful and ruthless in the name of religion, tribalism, nationalism, patriotism, and any other number of divisive -isms have turned a sizeable area of our globe into a theater of suffering. In my own country the political polarization is so severe that it cripples the progress of our nation and sometimes borders on hatred between members of opposing political parties. Long-standing world alliances that have kept peace, cooperation and amity among democratic nations for more than half a century are dangerously close to unraveling and ambitious dictators are gaining in power and influence on the world stage because of the outrageous capriciousness and avarice of the leader of the world's most powerful nation.
The only thing that ever seems to unify mankind is an occasional terrible tragedy that joins us in our sorrow.
Then the day before yesterday a miracle happened.
The day before yesterday, July 10, 2018, saw the whole world rejoicing as one, the joy not portioned out to winners over losers, nor to one nation, ideology, theology or political persuasion over another.
The day before yesterday was a day when we could all be happy together, and in our world-wide happiness bound together as well, even if only for a day, not by our tribal interests but by our humanity.
For, as everyone on the planet knows, 12 boys from a small town in Thailand, members of a soccer team called the Wild Boars, and their soccer coach had been lost for ten days,
...then found almost 2 miles inside a cave they'd been exploring when a flash flood of monsoon waters suddenly filled the cave and left the boys and their coach stranded on a high shelf above the deep water.
And yet, by some miracle, along with the ingenious engineering of the rescue system and incredible skill of the Thai Navy Seals and a group of international expert divers - 90 divers from Thailand and around the world in all - they did make it out alive, all twelve boys and their coach.
On Sunday, July 8, five days after the boys were found, the dramatic rescue began. No details were available of how the rescue was being effectuated, but that day the news broke that two boys had been rescued. A few hours later came word that two more boys were safe.
The following day, Monday, July 9, amid reports that the rains were moving in and the oxygen level in the cave was falling by the day and would soon drop to a dangerous level, four more boys were rescued. This left four remaining boys and their coach still in the cave.
In the meantime no one was told, not even the families of the boys, which boys had been rescued and hospitalized and which were still in the cave. And so it was hope mixed with anxiety as the world continued to watch, wait, and pray for the five left in the cave. That all thirteen would survive was surely too much to hope for.
And then on Tuesday, July 10, came the news: All the the boys and their coach had been saved.
This news seemed nothing short of miraculous. My own heart swelled with happiness at the news an I was among I'm sure the many who spent the day offering prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude for the safety of the boys.
Because in these boys I saw my own son,
The details of how the boys were rescued were unclear for the first day after they were rescued. At first it was reported that the boys were led out on tethers by divers.
Apparently the boys' coach, a young former Buddhist monk, kept the boys calm and brave during the ordeal by having them practice meditation and by carefully distributing what food there was among the boys, declining to eat any of the food himself. Medical experts have theorized that it may have been the meditation that kept them alive and well, as it lowered their breathing rate, saving precious oxygen, and kept them from being overcome by fear or panic.
Now the Wild Boars are all safe and recovering in the hospital,
...and the world has a new band of heroes.
At least for today.