Lessons From Thailand Cave Rescue

We Need To Learn From The Thailand Cave Incident

Do not be reckless, and do not take things for granted.

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know about the Tham Luang cave rescue by now. On June 23, 2018, 12 boys, members of a junior football (soccer) team were trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand after their coach Ekapol Chantawong led them in to explore it. All 12 of the boys and their coach were rescued, but it came at the expense of rescue worker Saman Kunan's life.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this: never take anything or anyone for granted, and do not engage in overly reckless behavior like exploring a cave with fluctuating water levels.

This football team was reportedly looking to celebrate the 17th birthday of one of the players and they decided to spelunk this cave. Shortly after they entered it, a squall came on. A downpour of heavy rain partially flooded the cave and trapped the boys and Chantawong inside it. They were forced to venture deeper into the cave to avoid rising water levels.

The authorities reported the team and their coach missing after a ranger of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation discovered their gear at the entrance to the cave. Thai Navy SEALs were summoned to the cave to begin a rescue attempt. They were joined by cave diving experts and members of the United States Indo-Pacific Command. They executed the rescue with extreme difficulty due to continuous rain further flooding the cave.

On July 2 at 22:00, the rescue workers discovered all 13 victims alive deep inside the cave. They cleared the area quickly due to the high probability of monsoon rains flooding the cave throughout October. Over the course of several days, a group of divers escorted each of the boys out of the cave, providing them with face masks and using a rope line.

On July 10, all of the boys were rescued along with Chantawong. The remaining rescue workers had difficulty escaping due to the water levels rising after they had previously dropped, but they managed to make it out.

Unfortunately, one rescue worker, 38-year-old Saman Kunan, died of asphyxiation trying to bring the boys supplies on July 6. He ran out of air underwater while swimming through a narrow passageway. His diving partner brought him to the surface, but he was dead on arrival and he could not be resuscitated.

There is a huge lesson to be learned from this. One should never engage in an overly reckless behavior. Exploring a cave that has water flowing into it is an example of this, especially when you have young boys who do not have their parents with them.

Additionally, this incident should be a reminder to everyone that they should not take the people they love for granted. You never know when someone may die. It could be today or tomorrow that you lose a loved one. Situations like the Tham Luang Nang Nonincident are certainly rare, but your friends and family could still be dead before you know it.

Cover Image Credit:

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The Importance Of Listening To Both Sides Of An Argument

Choosing to ignore the side of the argument you don't agree with only weakens your own.
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When it comes to arguments I'm passionate about, my automatic reaction in the face of the opposition is to flee. Scroll past it, exit the tab or fast-walk past that mess.

Listening to an opposing side of an argument can be very uncomfortable, especially if it's one that touches on something very personal to you or is being argued in an aggressive manner. Enough to make you not want to look into it at all.

But then why is it important to force yourself to investigate where the opposition is coming from?

Biased Arguments Risk a Loss of Credibility

I'm biased, you're biased. No need to deny it. But there are times and places it is not necessarily in your best interest to allow your bias to present itself like some flashing neon sign. Depending on the forum in which you're expressing your argument—Twitter, a liberal/conservative news site, your chemistry class—your bias has the power to either garner support from those who already agree with you or earn disdain from those who are already looking for a reason to invalidate whatever it is you're saying.

Obviously that's a problem. You want to be taken seriously. Even in satirical argumentative pieces, I would venture to think there's at least some small hope that the audience will extract some morsel of truth from what may otherwise just consider itself a humor piece.

When it comes to these issues that you feel passionate about, if you want to be taken seriously you need to be informed on both sides of the issue, or the gray area in-between if relevant. That doesn't mean you need to Google every news piece commenting on whether trigger warnings should be implemented in university classrooms or not, but it's a good idea to figure out the primary points being expressed from each side.

It Can Strengthen Your Argument

Or it may lead you to modifying your argument some, either because you've realized you weren't expressing something clearly enough, or you weren't aware of all the facts.

The danger of reading extremely biased articles, or listening to a biased speaker, is the chance of being fed misinformation. Unfortunately, not everyone is honorable enough to not use whatever mischievous tactic they can to get others to follow them.

Furthermore, if this did happen and you went on to cite their misinformation to support your own argument, it would lessen your credibility as well as reassert the unreliability of theirs. This is only if the source isn't trying to address both sides themselves. They, as well as you, don't need to agree with both sides or remain objective in their stance on the matter, but cherry-picking things that only work to strengthen your side of the argument can actually hurt it.

However, if you read rebuttals, or listen to people who have just as much stock in their oppositional argument that you have in yours, you can gain new perspective. You can see where the opposition is coming from and modify it to strengthen your own argument in a way that can better address your points.

Once you take the time to assess the points of people who think differently than you, if you decide afterwards that you're still satisfied with your argument as it is, the information is still useful. An instance could occur where someone tries to criticize you for not knowing what you're talking about, and if they do, then you'll be able to say that you have actually read up on both sides of the argument and/or other resources, and therefore do know what you're talking about. Depending on the person, they may not care much, but forcing yourself to still pay attention to that information does matter.

Facing the Discomfort Will Become Easier

There may be times you're not in the right head-space to face the nay-sayers, the "haters," or any other name for the opposition. Not every person asserting their argument online or even in person does so respectfully—and I use "respectfully" loosely in this case, meaning no death threats, slurs or other personal attacks.

There are days I may post something controversial online, or text someone something that I'm not sure how they'll react to, and afterward decide to wait some time before looking at any replies. Maybe you've had a long day and don't want to face any trolls who have replied to your tweet about feminism or the 2016 presidential election.

We've all been there—sometimes we need to take a breather. Letting yourself decompress might actually save you from responding to them in an aggressive or angry way that you'll regret later on. I mean, you won't always regret it, but especially if this is an offline deal, not every response can be edited or deleted.

Arguments aren't just one-sided, as much as we might sometimes wish they were. If they were only made up of one side, it would be so much easier to win. But such is life, and facing perspectives different from your own is a part of that; even if you feel other perspectives are harmful and perpetuate hateful ideals that you can't even try to understand on a personal level.

You can hope that everyone will come to see things the way you do, but until then, give 'em hell by proving that you've got the knowledge to back yourself up and rid them of any leverage they might have been prepared to place on your assumed ignorance.

Cover Image Credit: socl

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I Am 9,170 Miles Away But I Still Choose To Stand In Solidarity With The People Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.

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April 21, 2019. Easter Sunday.

I was devastated to wake up on Sunday morning to a series of missed calls and texts from friends asking whether my friends and family were affected by the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. I was shocked to read all of the news about the bombings in various churches and hotels that I'd visited on my trips to Sri Lanka. I remember wandering around the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in middle school hoping to get a glimpse of internationally famous cricket players like Lasith Malinga and Kumar Sangakkara.

Now, this hotel where I associated happy memories of staying up until 5 a.m. to watch the World Cup and running around with my brother is one of the 6 locations in Sri Lanka that was bombed on Easter.

Sri Lanka is a country that most of my peers have never heard of. It brings a smile to my face when I'm able to talk about the amazing experiences I've had on this island nation. I'm able to talk about how I almost got run over by an elephant during a safari in Yala National Park, how I took surfing lessons at Arugam Bay, and how I climbed all the way up Mount Sigiriya when I was 4 years old. All of these experiences have shown me the beauty of the people, the nature, the animals, and the culture of Sri Lanka. While there is so much to appreciate, there is also so much to acknowledge about its recent history.

In 2009, the 30-year civil war finally came to an end. I remember going to my parents' room when I was nine, and watching live streams of people in the streets celebrating that the war had finally ended. This was a war that caused the majority of my family to flee the country to avoid the violence and destruction. Now, almost ten years after the war ended, there was a coordinated attack on churches and hotels that led to the murder of over 300 innocent citizens and wounded around 500 people.

Sri Lanka isn't perfect, but it's roots and culture have made me who I am today. Even though I wasn't alive during the majority of the war, it has left a lasting impact on my family. My mom had to go by herself to Russia, without any prior Russian language experience, to avoid being in the middle of the war. She now speaks English, Russian, Tamil, and Sinhalese. I had other family members who fled to places like New Zealand, Nigeria, Canada, and Australia.

Because of the war, I have family all over the world who can speak Mandarin, Arabic, Dutch, Malay, French, Russian, and so many more languages. Being Sri Lankan has given me an international perspective on the world around me and has given me the insight to look past cultural differences. Instead of going to shopping malls with my cousins like my friends in the US do, I meander through bazaars in Singapore and Malaysia or go dune-bashing in the United Arab Emirates.

When people look at me, they never think that my last name could be Paul. Shouldn't it be something that is hard to pronounce or something much longer? My last name dates back to 1814 when missionaries from Williams College traveled all the way to villages in the Northern parts of Sri Lanka to share God's love. My great great great grandfather studied in one of the many Christian schools and his faith has been passed down from generation to generation. No matter how dark things got during the war, faith is what kept my family going.

Though Sri Lanka has faced adversity over the years, it continues to grow stronger. Through violence, hurricanes, government corruption, and internal conflicts, Sri Lanka continues to push through. Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.

So today—9,170 miles away—I stand with the people of Sri Lanka.

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