The tragic collapse of 23 year old footballer Fabrice Muamba during Saturday’s FA Cup match sent a shock wave through the world of football. After the paramedics failed to resuscitate the player on the pitch, he was rushed to the London Chest Hospital. The game was cancelled and the shocked spectators were left bewildered that this young man could be playing world class football one minute and be fighting for his life the next.
As the news spread, so did a rallying cry, ‘Pray for Muamba’, led by his fiancée Shauna. Over the weekend, 685,000 tweets contained the hashtag #PrayForMuamba, and thousands of get well messages were sent via Facebook and other social media.
The response to this very public tragedy brings the relational nature of life sharply into focus. Perfect strangers were touched by the plight of Muamba, the courage of his fiancée, the dedication of the NHS staff (including the cardiologist-cum-Spurs fan, who ran on to the pitch to help) and the compassion of his Bolton colleagues. These show the true value of ‘horizontal’ relationships such as a loving family, committed friendships and a caring society.
But the rallying cry points to a ‘vertical’ relational dimension too. ‘Pray for Muamba’ was relayed by believers and non-religious people alike; the latter invoked an unknown God, because they sensed, perhaps, that such a spectacular demise can only be reversed by a supernatural intervention. Indeed, the cardiologist admitted that the player’s recovery over the weekend was nothing short of miraculous.
And all this takes place in a country which only a few weeks ago sought to ban prayers from local council meetings. Perhaps the lesson from this is that we would do well to ensure that public policy and the decisions of judges support, protect and encourage the quality of relationships which make life worth living for all of us.
(Source, Friday Five)