Paul Greenberg

The ordinary detritus of the news was swept away as the world watched in astonishment and, thanksgiving. Man was reminded of the great things he is capable of in a crisis: individual spirit and mutual cooperation, self-discipline and solidarity, organization and daring, charity for others and the highest demands on one's self, faith and forbearance, pride and humility, patience and endurance, thought and action, all bound up together. And once again the world was reminded, as it isn't nearly often enough:

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!

It may be whole days before the usual backbiting, finger pointing and second-guessing begin. It would be another monumental achievement if it never did. What a wonder it would be if, not only in crisis but in the course of human events, man remembered what he is capable of, and, remembering, raised his expectations of himself. And proceeded to live up to them, to exceed them. As did these miners. And their families. And all those technicians and advisers from around the world.

An audience of millions followed this human -- and humane -- story. First with trepidation, then celebration. And always with fascination. And with that secret weapon in every crisis, personal prayer. For once mankind was united in faith, hope and charity.

Yes, let us celebrate. For to celebrate triumphs is to assure that there will be more of them. In celebrating this one, let us rehearse all the qualities, the virtues and strengths, that made it possible. And so perpetuate them. There is indeed something wondrous about the stars in the night sky. If we would but remember to look up.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.