Response to terror
St Peter's Rectory, October 2001
The shock which has been felt all around the world, caused by the events in the USA on 11th September, is of an order never before experienced in my lifetime. The horror of the death, suffering and destruction was exacerbated, I am sure, for the many people who like me love the city of New York, and know those streets of Lower Manhattan and the wonderful waterside, and have surveyed that great city from the top of the now destroyed World Trade Centre. Tom, our son, spent three months over there in 1997, working at Trinity Church, Wall Street - just a couple of blocks from the scene of the disaster, and he took a wonderful photograph from the top, which we had enlarged and now hangs on his bedroom wall. It is difficult to believe that that view is now consigned to the history books.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his sermon at the service in St Paul’s Cathedral, referred to the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty - a sign across the world of the hopes and longings for freedom which is such an integral part of the story of the United States of America, and it speaks to us all. Attacks of the sort which took place in New York and Washington are attacks on that freedom which we all desire. Apart from the awful suffering they cause, they undermine any legitimacy which might be claimed for the cause the perpetrators might claim to be supporting; and further than that, they run the risk of causing major disruption of society in countries around the world, not least in our own, as unruly and racist elements seize the opportunity to attack members of ethnic minority communities in some sort of sick retaliation.
The letter published by five religious leaders in Nottinghamshire including our own bishop, reproduced below, is therefore timely and of great importance in these weeks of uncertainty and anxiety for us all. Please read it, and make their words your own. By the time you receive this magazine, we will have hosted an Open Forum at St Peter’s bringing together politicians and representatives of all parts of our community to discuss both the ‘big issues’ and how we can all unite in defence and support for one another in this city and county. St Peter’s will also be available throughout the coming weeks for all who wish to use it, to pray for peace at every level, and for those who will so drastically be affected if a military conflict breaks out. Please pray for peace.
We, representatives of the many faith communities in Nottinghamshire, are appalled by the terrorist carnage in the United States of America. Our respective religions, Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu and Sikh, all reject violence as a way of seeking solutions to the great divisions in out world.
At this time we need cool heads and clear minds. The nations of the world will react with tough measures to counteract terrorism. They need also to be tough on the causes of terrorism.
We deplore all attacks on places of worship and our various communities. We call on all members of faith communities to work in co-operation with the authorities against intimidation and fear.
We commit ourselves to work for a greater understanding between our different faiths. We acknowledge with thanksgiving the contribution that different cultures bring to the shared life of the City and County. Although we believe it is important for the different faiths to sustain their own clear identities, we do not believe it is helpful to foster separatism and we wish to work for closer partnerships.
We believe evil is a debased currency which is passed from hand to hand until it reaches someone who does not pass it on. We ask every citizen of this City and County not to respond to evil with evil.