A reponse to 9/11 that is still appropriate today

Following September 11 I was asked to deliver assemblies for different year groups in the school where I then worked, and also provide some guidance for other teachers. This is still relevant today- perhaps even more so:

Assembly Regarding the Bombing of the USA

Last week, as I did, you will have sat, horrified at the events taking place in the USA. What have your thoughts been since then?

On Friday we offered a three minute silence- what did you think about then?

It is no secret that I am a religious person, during that time I offered a silent prayer. In this prayer I asked for comfort for those who are suffering, and also that the leaders of the world, especially the USA, would be guided in doing what is right in their response. I have also offered the prayer that ordinary people would respond in a way that is appropriate.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

What happened in the USA was evil, and without excuse. The suffering of the people is unimaginable. As I have listened to the last phone messages of those on the aeroplane and those in the towers, I have been struck that they all had a common theme- that of love. If we had one last phone call to make, I assume it would be of a similar nature. They didn’t phone their bank manager to see how much money they had, or anyone else. They focused on what was important. The measure of how successful a person is how able they are to love.

Your form teachers will have spoken to you last week about the appropriate response to make. It is not to seek to apportion blame, neither is it to abuse innocent individuals. The leaders of the world have the responsibility to make the response. We can offer our love and support to those who have suffered. To cause more suffering would be wrong. St Francis of Assisi offered this prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; …where there is injury, pardon; …where there is doubt, faith; …where there is despair, hope; …where there is darkness, light; …where there is sadness, joy; O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek …to be consoled as to console; …to be understood as to understand; …to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; …it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; …and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I was reading a newspaper article last Thursday about two men at the centre of these events- President Bush and Mayor Guliano of New York. The first was being criticised, the second was being praised. Why? One had sat in an office expressing regret, the other had gone into downtown New York and helped as much as he could. What does that teach us? It teaches us that we must, in whatever situation we find ourselves in, offer practical help. Jesus taught the following parable;

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. “So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37)

Let me read it to you again;

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he stood by and said, ‘Oh dear, this is terrible’. “So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, said what a terrible thing it was. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
 

We, as decent human beings- no matter what religion we are, must help other people. If we see someone in trouble we don’t just say, oh that’s terrible, we do something to help. If someone in school is being picked on, we help. If someone is being chased, we do something about it.

We must learn some lessons from the atrocities of last week.

HATE IS WRONG

WE MUST HELP PEOPLE

Last week week’s tragedy was a waste of human life, if we don’t want to add to this problem we must learn these lessons.

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