For 17 days straight, the whole world has held its collective breath as search and rescue experts from around the world converged on a remote, humid jungle cave complex in Thailand to rescue 12 little boys and their soccer coach.
The entire world — regardless of religion or personal credo — prayed for the boys safe deliverance from the dark labyrinth. This potential tragedy did more to unify the globe than any other event in recent history.
Even before the boys could be rescued, the group had to survive for nine days trapped in total darkness unaware of the desperate search efforts.
One can only surmise the sense of hopelessness and despair that these young people experienced.
They survived their ordeal by sipping the dripping water off the cave walls and eventually the snacks delivered to them by the first divers to reach them.
Many of the boys did not know how to swim and each had to undergo training before embarking on their six-hour journey to freedom, tethered to trained divers.
One diver tragically lost his life.
I recall that tragic evening when three of our astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were trapped in deep space unable to land on the moon and unsure if they would be able to make it safely back to the earth again.
An explosion on board forced Apollo 13 to circle the moon without landing.
Just as in the situation involving the young boys trapped in the cave complex, oxygen levels were dropping drastically.
In supermarkets, in appliance stores and in living rooms across America and around the world, the flickering blue light of televisions staying on all night shone through windows and lit up the evening sky.
Cheers erupted in Times Square as the news flashed that all the astronauts were safe. Headlines in 300 different languages proclaimed one word: “Safe!”
There was no scapegoating as to why the mission went wrong. There was no fingerpointing. The only mission was to save lives. It has been said that by 1970, moon missions had become routine.
Apollo 13 reminded humanity just how fragile we are down here on this little blue planet floating in the galaxy.
That we all need one another. That our survival is all inextricably linked to each other.
Closer to home, I recall when Horn Lake Fire Chief David Linville and others raced against the clock to save two construction workers who had been buried alive in a muddy trench that had collapsed.
Forming a bucket line, emergency crews and firefighters scooped up mud pail by pail and some even dug with their fingers in their attempt to free the trapped men. They all worked together.
I think our Creator planned it that way. Many of us feel lost and alone and trapped. It’s only when we reach out to one another for help and deliverance that we become connected again. That sense of connectivity is what makes us human. The urge to pray and to hope is what links us to the divine.
We all need each other. We all need hope.
ROBERT LEE LONG is the Community Editor. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, ext. 252.