If You’re Criticizing Elon Musk for Trying to Save Kids With a Mini-Submarine, It’s Time to Take a Long, Hard Look at Your Life
You don’t have to like Elon Musk. But jumping all over him for trying this is just crazy.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
This is about Elon Musk and his mini-submarine in Thailand.
He's taking a lot of flak and ridicule now for his team's somewhat ostentatious effort to build it, and personally deliver it to the scene of the Tham Luang Cave rescue.
In the end, the sub wasn't needed. Thanks to the Thai Navy SEALs and some incredibly courageous foreign cave divers, all 12 youth soccer players and their 25-year-old coach were rescued, much sooner than anyone even predicted a few days ago.
But it's crazy to my mind that people are now criticizing Musk even for trying.
'Hi sir, if possible can you assist'
Nobody wanted to say it a few days ago, but there was a lot of fear that the kids wouldn't make it out. Speculation was rife that the effort would be a big success if it could even get some of the kids out.
One retired Thai Navy SEAL who'd been part of the rescue team gave his life.
Ah, how quickly we forget.
That's the environment in which Musk assembled his team and flew quickly to Thailand. An environment in which it appears that the entire notion of Musk getting involved began with his exchange on July 4 with a Twitter user in Switzerland.
Hi sir, if possible can you assist in anyway to get the 12 Thailand boys and their coach out of the cave. @elonmusk-- MabzMagz (@MabzMagz) July 3, 2018
'Please keep working on the capsule'
Within five days after that exchange, Musk's engineers had built the sub and delivered it. And now since it wasn't needed, I guess, people have started piling on.
"I assure you that the equipment he brought to help us is not practical for our mission," the Thai provincial governor, Narongsak Osottanakorn, was quoted as saying. "Even though the equipment has state of the art technology, it does not fit our mission in the cave."
The BBC suggested the whole thing might have been a distraction. And Twitter users (who else?) especially to start piling on.
Musk, one of the most prolific verified tweeters around, responded by sharing emails he'd sent back and forth with Dick Stanton, one of the two civilian divers who'd led the tactical rescue effort.
"It is absolutely worth continuing with the development of this system in as time a manner as feasible. If the rain holds it out it may well be used," Stanton apparently wrote Musk on July 7.
And a day later: "We're worried about the smallest lad please keep working on the capsule details."
The former Thai provincial governor (described inaccurately as "rescue chief") is not the subject matter expert. That would be Dick Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team. This is our direct correspondence: pic.twitter.com/dmC9l3jiZR-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2018
The man in the arena
Look, does Elon Musk have an ego? Is he tone deaf sometimes? Would I like him if I spent time with him in person?
Irrelevant. Totally irrelvant.
What is relevant is that he heard of a problem, thought up a way to potentially offer assistance, and jumped up to help.
It's like an exponentially greater example of the kind of quick action that my colleague Justin Bariso noted earlier this year, when Musk apparently changed a Tesla company policy in response to a customer's tweet.
Kids were in danger. Musk and his team acted. That the kids were rescued by another means doesn't diminish their achievement.
To the critics: What did you do while people were frantically searching for the Wild Boars soccer team, and then praying against hope to get them out?
Did you do anything? Or did you stand on the sidelines and harp at those who were helping?
We'll leave you with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, who saw this kind of carping in his own era, and offered a classing response. Because here we are 108 years later, seeing the same ugly side of human nature again:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.