Lessons From A Cave In Thailand

I am a vegan and cheering for the rescue of wild boars would be a stretch even for me.

Originally natives of Eurasia, North Africa and the Greater Sunda Islands, wild boars have been successfully introduced into a wide range of environments, and because of their resilience and adaptability they are now classified as a species of “least concern” (LC) -- and even as an invasive species in some locations.  Feral hogs that plague much of Texas are likely the result of these transplanted wild boars breeding with indigenous wild pigs.

But this week I was on high alert, getting live updates, and then actually shouted out loud (alone in my car) when word came: The last of the 13 Wild Boars had been rescued from the cave in Thailand. Though proving to be resilient and adaptable, these Boars were not at any time classified as LC.

For 18 days, 12 members of the Wild Boar youth soccer team and their assistant coach were trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, after an innocent post-practice adventure was hijacked by excessive rain.

 The world stood by spellbound as the intricacies – and perils -- of the rescue mission were outlined and the scope of the efforts unfolded, involving nearly 100 divers and hundreds of volunteers. The escape route was treacherous even for seasoned divers, and most of these young boys were non-swimmers. Timing was crucial as even more rains threatened, but the rescue process couldn’t be too rushed. 

As I watched and hoped, I had several thoughts.

  • Parents and families and communities all over the world love and want what is best for their children, and they will take drastic measures to protect and provide for them.
  • We really do care, and do not wish to stand idly by while innocent children are trapped in dark and scary and lonely places, separated from their families.
  • Assisting those overwhelmed by the floodwaters is not best accomplished with reprimands or finger pointing or “You got yourselves into this mess, you can get yourself out.”
  • Leading trapped travelers to safety takes more than information and education. Scuba-diving lessons were helpful -- providing necessary basic skills – but were in no way sufficient for survival. Imagine the divers dropping in, gathering those frightened youngsters for a quick Scuba Diving 101, and then swimming off with thumbs-up well wishes for their journey.
  • Stronger swimmers before and behind those who are going through water over their heads makes sense. Sometimes they may even need to be tethered to one -- especially in extra tight spots.
  • Someone to carry the load -- at least until others are strong enough -- enhances the success of the rescue effort. The youngsters could swim longer without the encumbrance of their air bottles carried by the lead diver.
  • Folks need care even after reaching safety. The rescued footballers will be hospitalized and nourished and watched for infections. They may even face some fears and struggles for years to come.

These lessons make perfect sense when we envision the rescue of stranded young boys – even if halfway around the world – caught in the dark waters of a cave.

May our hearts be just as filled with this enduring and compelling compassion for those around us trapped in the rising waters of life.