Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Heroes of mine

When I was a child of Zenella's age, I wanted to be a miner. It seemed to me impossibly glamorous, a proper vocation for a man, to become a hero of the working class. I did not know that people would think I was too smart for it and that I would lose my vocation, any sense of purpose and, finally, my sense of pride in where I came from.

But I never lost my admiration for the brave men who risk their lives underground. The fear of something's going wrong must be tremendous, ever present, almost paralysing. To be able to withstand that without flinching is something to admire.

I will not say anything about the blackhearted men and women who exploit miners, who allow mines to decay into places of extreme peril in their pursuit of the fast buck. They are not worth even the time it takes to express contempt for them. I will spend my time instead in saying that my thoughts are with the two guys awaiting rescue at Beaconsfield, who survived for five days without food or good water.

Some say that our heroes are warriors, worse that they are those who send warriors to die for, all too often, schemes that have no great benefit for those who perish in their pursuit. Some say that they are the stars who fill the middle pages, and sometimes the front pages, of our newspapers, mannequins whose purpose does not extend beyond being looked at. But I say that the men and women who build our world, who grub up the means of our subsistence and the materials we build our shelter and infrastructure with, those who maintain our world and the comforts we take for granted, and those who cart away the shit when we are done with it, they are our heroes. Without them, we are monkeys out of the jungle, lost and homeless. They are the heroes in my world and I will raise a glass when the Tasmanian miners are brought from the deepest darkness into the glare of the limelight.

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