I took a mental picture of the storm roiling from the Taconics, over the Equinox mountain to the Greens as I drove to the grocery store after work last night. I wanted to remember everything about this moment, this second when the radio announced that all twelve boys and their coach had been rescued from the cave in Thailand.
They weren’t my kids. I’m guessing you’re not reading this from Thailand, so they’re not probably not your kids. But for almost two weeks, they’ve been everyone’s kids, and they’ve caused an amazing phenomenon.
Volunteers from a dozen countries, allies and adversaries worked together toward the rescue effort. Articles detailing thoughts and prayers and efforts winging their way from every habited continent on earth to those kids appeared on liberal sites and conservative news sites.
For two weeks, the entire world was able to agree on one thing, to share a hope that these kids, who somehow belonged to all of us, would be reunited with their families, would be safe, would go on to whatever purpose their lives will hold.
Not too long ago, in this galaxy, I was a Trekkie (and obviously a Star Wars fan too). My guiding political philosophy was based on the prime directive of non-interference. I was the kid Bill Shatner was yelling at to get out of my parents’ basement and make something out of my life.
I didn’t just love Star Trek for the adventures or even the characters. I loved the premise.The very existence of an organization like Starfleet was predicated on a supposition that the human race would eventually evolve enough to make possible the kind of cooperation that would be required for that kind of exploration. It was an optimistic view of the future but also of humanity.
So much of the world is mired in division. The US is divided within itself, as are many of its allies and its adversaries. To follow current events is to invite challenges to the idea that, as a species we would ever cooperate to ensure our own survival, let alone achieve great discoveries outside our atmosphere.
Yet, as I dashed into the supermarket trying to beat the lightning, I overheard a woman asking her friend if she had heard about the rescue and then the man at the meat counter telling a customer, “Isn’t that great?” In the time it took to put milk and cereal and bananas in my cart, those conversations were repeated half a dozen times. They continued echoing when the car radio was turned on again for the drive home. It was as if the world was breathing a single, joyous sigh of relief.
Against my will, I remember what show I was watching when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.
I remember the color of the sky when we first heard about the first plane flying into the World Trade Center.
Two weeks ago, Thai officials despaired of finding the boys in the cave, let alone finding them alive. Then officials despaired of getting them out and then getting them out before they ran out of supplies, so, twelve kids and their coach getting out of the cave was a cause for rejoicing.
But today the almost 7 billion people waiting for the news of a successful rescue found something around which they could unite. We had at least one moment of shared joy. That’s the kind of moment that’s rarely repeated, but, when it does, it’s worth committing to memory. It’s worth remembering that the seemingly impossible actually is possible.