Hereford & Worcester

The Bishop of Worcester reflects on life after 9/11

The Archbishop of Canterbury was in New York only a couple of blocks away from the twin towers when the aircraft struck.

Shortly afterwards he wrote a short but characteristically inspiring reflection on what happened, entitled "Writing in the Dust", in which he encouraged us to pause before reacting, as Jesus did when he wrote in the dust when a woman caught in adultery was brought to him.

A lot has happened in the 10 years since 9/ll. We could have done with a lot more "writing in the dust" rather than precipitate action, like the war in Iraq. I was inspired by another intervention to encourage a pause from violent reaction in the midst of the riots in Birmingham last month.

When three young men were killed, things could have got really out of hand. Then the father of one of those killed, Tariq Jahan, intervened.

'Miss him dearly'

He said: "I didn't see it with my own eyes, I was round the corner. I heard the thud, ran round and saw three people on the ground. My instinct was to help the three people.

"I was helping the first man and someone came up behind me and told me my son was lying behind me. So I started CPR on my own son. My face was covered in blood. My hands were covered in blood...

"I miss him dearly but I don't blame the government. I don't blame the police. I don't blame anybody. I am a Muslim. I believe in divine fate and destiny, and it was his destiny and his fate. And now he's gone. And may Allah forgive him and bless him.

"Today I stand here to plead with all the youth to remain calm, for our communities to stand united. This is not a race issue. The family has received messages of support from all parts of society. I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites - we all live in the same community. Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise calm down and go home. Please."

Ten years on from 9/11 it is, God willing, not too late to learn from Tariq Jahan's words and realise that we all live in a global village and we need to learn to calm down and live with one another peaceably rather than always meet violence with violence.

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