Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Miner Complaint

I'm happy for the miners. Thrilled. Yay miners. Welcome home. Fresh tapas and a trip to Disneyland awaits.

I'm irritated by the media. As usual. You would think an industry that deals primarily with words would be loosely familiar with their definitions. Let me 'splain. No, too long. Let me sum up.

MIRACLE. Admittedly, i only read a few of the news stories, but i don't recall anyone walking on a pond, turning water to wine, or raising the dead. Maybe i just wasn't paying attention when the first miner emerged, helmeted and coal-faced, to the cheers of the crowd and the clicks of the cameras, and then walked over to craft services and died for our sins.

The rescue was the result of human effort, no more. We are incredible when we want to be. And then, because we hate ourselves, we give credit to the invisible man for our own divinity. We are too weak to admit to ourselves how strong we can be. So hey, yay us.

HERO. I don't mean to be a dick, not at the moment anyway, but these guys are victims, not heroes. A bunch of rocks fell on them. They suffered. They endured. And by all accounts, they stuck together and rode it out as a team. They are shining examples of the power of selfless community.

I have a vague memory of a convenience store heist gone terribly wrong when i was a child. The news reported that a man had entered a store to rob it, but got into a scuffle with an off-duty police officer and shot him. Other officers arrived quickly, forcing the gunman to take hostages, initiating an all-night standoff that ended badly for the gunman—a moment of carelessness, perhaps, a reach for a candy bar or an absent-minded yawn that stretched his neck, exposing the back of his head long enough for a sniper to find it.

But mostly i remember the adjective the media ladled on the survivors: heroes. Their ordeal was terrible, no doubt—twelve hours of wondering if the last thing you see would be, instead of your children’s faces, an expired, overpriced Hostess Twinkie. But they were not heroes.

Heroes make decisions. A hero is not a victim of his surroundings, but one who decides to intercede for victims of their surroundings, willing to risk his own safe harbor to rescue the adrift. The dead officer was a hero, but the hostages were victims. They no more deserved the title “hero” than people who buy winning lottery tickets—they simply walked into the right store at the right time, or the wrong store at the wrong time. The miners, god bless them, had their asses kicked by mother nature and poor engineering, and then admirably -- but not heroically -- shared their food.

MINER. What the fuck were 33 children doing in a coal mine?


  1. You mean the media uses buzz words and catch phrases excessively and incorrectly... inconceivable

  2. I agree wholeheartedly on every aspect but one:
    miner = person who works in mine.
    minor = person who is not of legal age.
    Check your words' definitions before you rant about their misuse ;-)

  3. Hi Chips, welcome to the party. Can I get you a glass of punchline?

  4. I have to admit that mr. potato crisps' response to my ending joke is much funnier than the joke itself.

  5. Chris, can't agree with all you say, but it is nicely wrapped in a fine box lunch, tho the chips were a bit off. That divine notation, we'll never agree on, and since it can't be verified why dwell on the cirular argument? Anyway, thanks for the laughs!

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  7. Nicely said Gary. I don't deny divinity, i just believe we are more a part of it than we are willing to admit to ourselves.

    More box lunches available at -- though i will be posting here more frequently, mostly to get into Steve's pants.


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