On the 15th of December, Sandy Hook Elementary School became the scene of one of the worst school shootings that America has ever seen; 26 people were killed, 20 of whom were children1 aged 6 of 7. Across the globe people were echoing Barack Obama’s statement that said “our hearts are broken today”2. Naturally, like any human, my deepest sympathies also go out to all who were, and are affected by this unbelievable act of violence.
A vigil was held at the local church, Saint Rose of Lima, where 23 year old Agron Selmani was stood quietly outside praying. Selmani was quoted in the Guardian as saying "I'm not a regular at this church at all. I'm not even Catholic, I'm a Muslim, but it doesn't matter right now"3. In the midst of the tragedy, the community managed to come together, regardless of religion.
In a previous blog, I explored how some of Miroslav Volf's work could be seen as an attempt to unite Christians and Muslims by proposing that they could have the same God; I concluded "surely it would be more effective to refocus on the religions' ultimate concerns andpractical ways to reconcile them”4. The community managed to find something that made their religion for that period, seem irrelevant, and unite regardless of nationality, age, or religion. This was an undeniably horrific event; but it also can teach us more than simply what matters to us as Christians, or Muslims, or Atheists, but rather what matters to as humans.
This is proof that in our multi-faith society we can still find ultimate concerns that unite us, ultimate concerns that have the power to transcend religion. I can only pray that in the future, we can find other ways to unite without such tragedy.
2 The Independent
BBC, ‘Connecticut school shooting: Children among 27 killed’, BBC, 15 December 2012, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20730717> [accessed 16 December 2012]
Gabbat, A., ‘Newtown gunman kills 20 children in elementary school shooting’, Guardian, 15 December 2012, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/14/newtown-shooting-gunman-kills-20-children> [Accessed 16 December 2012]
Macivor, J., ‘God, Allah, and Volf’, Theology & the Theologian, 17 October 2012, <http://theologybyjess.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/god-allah-and-volf.html> [accessed 16 December 2012].