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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series

 

 

God and the Devil in a Gold Mine

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free - H├ęctor Tobar

 

 

Deep Down Dark. The title describes the places in the heart and spirit as well as in the earth where thirty-three miners spent sixty-nine days. They faced mortality, the real possibility of never again seeing the families for whom they had taken on this dangerous work. In that dark place, they found strength and insight, and hidden talents for spiritual and organizational leadership, and for poetry and storytelling. Hector Tobar portrays the men in this story as whole personalities, not heroes, men capable of both pettiness and altruism, of both breaking down and carrying on. Their unity, spirituality, and compassion when they had so little to hope for was extraordinary, and the changes that began when rescue came into view—all too human.

 

The enormous rescue effort was fascinating. These men mattered to the whole world, thirty-three ordinary men trapped in every imagination’s worst nightmare. The money, effort and expertise deployed to bring them up alive says something about human nature. We want to save our own kind at all costs. We care when fellow humans suffer.

 

And yet the poor condition of the mine shows that sometimes we don’t care until our short-term, greed-driven blindness causes a disaster. The dead river near Copiapo´ in this book is like a warning—this mine kills. But the men who worked in that mine—even though it had taken away the water the used to flow, and taken the lives of relatives and comrades—needed the work. The mine as a workplace exemplifies the ecological-economic dilemma: people will risk their own lives and destroy the natural world for future generations in order to feed their families today. The mine owners struck me as more corrupt and in less of a dilemma than their workers whose safety and environment they chose to ignore.

 

The media culture of the 21st century plays a dual role in this story, in bringing about the rescue effort from many nations, and in inflicting fame on miners. One of the most powerful moments in the story, for me, is the Mario’s fight with the devil, after the outside world and all its promises had finally contacted the thirty-three men.

 

The author refrains from making metaphors and sending messages, and I admire that choice on his part. He tells the men’s story, and that story needs nothing more than to be told well, with heart.