So much has been written about the amazing Thai soccer team who were trapped for days in a cave in Chiang Mai. It’s a story that has truly captivated the world. I was one of many who followed this unbelievable story closely from day 1. Now that they are out of danger with an outcome that is nothing short of a miracle, these are some reflections on what their ordeal can teach us in times of disasters.
- Their story serves as an inspiration to venture forth and explore in our everyday lives (Life is an adventure) – Without knowing the ordeal that they will face in the upcoming weeks, these boys ventured into the cave with childlike wonder with the goal to explore and to celebrate youth. Because of these, they gave the entire country and the whole world not just an inspiring story but also an opportunity to shine and they did.
- Always be prepared – We have been told time and time again about the importance of being prepared. When going off to some unknown adventure, you truly never know what might happen along the way. The endless possibilities that an adventure brings is what makes it so exciting. Know the place you will be visiting and bring essential items you might need for an emergency. Depending on where you are going and what the weather will be like, this could range from bottled water, a small flashlight, first aid kit, umbrella and other items. It would also never hurt to double check the name and reputation of places you will be staying in. Like the boys in the cave, you never know when you will be faced with the unexpected.
- No man is an island – There could really be strength in numbers. The boys and their coach were able to keep calm because they were together. In times of emergencies or ominous setbacks, support is so relevant. I could just imagine what it must be like to be swallowed by terrifying darkness with floodwaters beneath your feet and no sense of time in a damp desolate cave not knowing what is going on in the outside world. For someone who is alone, paralyzing fear might set in. Panic might overwhelm all emotions and the person might do something life-threatening or ultimately lose the will to live. However, the support of your peers and knowing that you are not undergoing something so devastating all by yourself can truly be enough to give someone the drive to make small miracles happen.
- Human resilience and the importance of meditation – One of the most incredible things about this incident was seeing the cool and calm composure of those boys the moment when they were found. The photos and video were splashed all over the news. It was amazing how there was no sense of panic or hysteria after being in total darkness for a couple of days nor there was victim mentality or thoughts of glory after the whole ordeal. It was mentioned in many news stories that the coach taught the boys meditation techniques to help them stay calm and to save energy. A steady mind and one’s determination to survive do play a key factor in enduring the most nerve-wracking situations.
- People can still work for the collective good – There is always hope for humanity. We are reminded that miracles do happen when people converge together to work for a common goal. Be it with prayers, resources or emotional support for the family, the whole community came together for these boys. Concerned teachers and classmates, entire villages, volunteers flying in from all parts of Thailand, international rescuers along with the whole world lit up social media with expressions of encouragement and support. It was very heartwarming to see the volunteers do all they can against all odds. It showed that despite all the craziness that goes on in the world, nothing is as profound as when something collectively touches human hearts and the lengths that people can go through to realize a selfless achievement.
- Appreciation for the men in uniform, the media and international team– Fortunately for these boys, it was the media that did an excellent coverage of their story in order to catch the attention of the world. Without the global journalists and the news, they may not have survived. Experts and specialists from the international team was crucial for the success of this rescue. Moreover, this was truly a time where the soldiers had incredible moments to shine. They literally placed their lives on the line to achieve something for the common good. Sometimes, there really are opportunities that come for people with a specific skill set and in this case, it was the soldiers and the Thai government that were thrust into the spotlight. Cheers to them for providing all-out support to an impossible situation and for exhausting all means necessary. The authorities called in the elite Thai Navy Seals, the national police, and other rescue teams. Local volunteers also pitched in. With the eyes of the entire world on them, they certainly didn’t disappoint. They embodied the quote “Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to act in spite of it.” From gathering the best of the best to help with the rescue, to exhausting resources, to the meticulous planning against a merciless weather – they placed everything on the line and achieved such a successful aftermath.
- Positive notes to their loved ones from the boys – The heartfelt notes were deeply moving. There were lots of hearts and smileys and the notes exuded an overall positive overtone. When reading what was sent out to their loved ones, we find something that is not expected on young boys trapped without food, light or communication from the outside world for days. We were given a glimpse of their enthusiastic disposition despite the bleakness of their situation. Through scrawling hearts and smiley faces on note papers, the boys told their parents again and again that they loved them and not to worry. They reminded us of the importance of keeping the faith during hopeless times. With astounding odds against them, the rescuers persevered. The kids never despaired. The families never gave up. Different countries watched with bated breath how this mind-blowing rescue unfolded. And then, the whole world exalted.
Finally, we would always remember the jubilation of the entire world when the first video of how they were found emerged. In a current divided planet battling with cultural prejudice, racial discrimination and selfish capitalism, they essentially made us remember what unity can accomplish. We are reminded that we are living in a world where love and friendship triumphs all. This unprecedented feat made the world believe again and that in itself, is very inspiring.
Photos Courtesy of Thai PBS, BBC Thailand, Thai Navy Seal, Reuters and EPA.