Green Room

Life Triumphant

posted at 6:30 pm on October 13, 2010 by

A billion people watched the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners begin on Tuesday night.  It was a remarkable moment of triumph for life over death.  The human race does itself credit by celebrating.

Death comes for us all in the end, but that is no reason for despair.  Our victories matter, even if the ultimate outcome of the contest is certain.  Life always matters.  We are each a tiny spark of light against the great dark sweep of entropy, but together we are a galaxy.

Your parents won a great victory for the living world in the moment of your birth.  You exist in defiance of incalculable odds.  The reality of human life is highly improbable.  Considering the billions of factors that must combine to produce atmosphere, life, and awareness, the birth of humanity was a sucker bet.  But here we are… and a billion of us beam with joy as we watch thirty-three more long shots rise from a hole that should have been their tomb.

These are not the only men to rush into the arms of their families after escaping incredible hardship and peril.  The same scene plays out every day as wounded soldiers pass through airports on their way home from combat duty, injured police officers take their first shaky steps out of hospital beds, and firefighters crawl from burning rubble.  A soldier just returned to my home town without his legs.  I was watching a news report of his reunion with family and friends when the Chilean miner story broke.  I was struck by the wonderful similarity of the miners hugging their wives.  A man who survives such a trial, to reach safe harbor in the arms of his loved ones, might be a little closer to understanding why the universe was created, and why it endures.

The miners have said religious faith helped them through their darkest hours.  It seems collapsed mine shafts harbor no more atheists than foxholes.  I’m not a member of any congregation, but when I witness a miracle like this rescue, I am reminded that I have questions about the nature of Creation, and such questions imply a measure of faith.  Only the true atheist is completely certain.

When Death deals the cards, the odds are stacked in favor of the house… but we keep winning. Faith begins when we doubt the murderous power of a world filled with fire, pressure, and poison.  We shouldn’t be here… but we are.

Death has no shortage of allies, acolytes, and lovers.  Life is the banner good people should never hesitate to rally around.  I’m tired of dreary harangues about overpopulation and the burden of child rearing.  The world doesn’t have enough good people in it.  Today we celebrate the determination and ingenuity of those who pulled 33 souls from a rocky grave, and the strength of spirit and will that allowed those trapped miners to survive.  Today, life is triumphant.

Cross-posted at

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