Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Remarks at Prayer Service
New York, New York
September 18, 2001
Thank you, Rabbi Sobel, for those very wise and very kind words. And thank you
for inviting Nane and me to join you and your congregation in this sanctuary.
Last night, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, began the 10-day period of
reflection, known among Jews as the "days of awe".
This year, these days have been days of awe for all of us. On 11 September,
the United Nations International Day of Peace, a terrible calamity struck.
Great structures have fallen. Our souls have been shaken. We are astonished
by the evil in our midst; stunned at the scale of the tragedy; dazed by the
disregard for human life; overwhelmed by the wound that has been inflicted --
on this city, on this country, and on us all.
But we are also in awe at the nobility of the human spirit that this disaster
has revealed; the extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice shown by the firemen,
the police, the health workers, and all the others who have given, or risked,
their lives; the generosity and goodwill poured out by the entire community;
and the solidarity expressed around the world by people of all nations and their
governments -- who, both individually and collectively, through unanimous condemnation
in the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, have recognized
in this despicable act a common threat to shared freedoms and ideals.
This tragedy has united us. We must not let its aftermath divide us. Let us
take care not to blame an entire people, an entire region, or an entire religion
for the unspeakable acts of a few individuals. Our response to these attacks
must be such that it unites us in global action against the scourge of terrorism,
and does not bring new divisions within and between nations.
Terrorism is a global menace. It calls for a united, global response. To defeat
it, all nations must take counsel together, and act in unison. That is why we
have the United Nations.
In the aftermath of such inhumanity, and in the midst of such sorrow, a service
like this -- where people of many faiths come together in tolerance, togetherness
and prayer -- is not just welcome. It is vital. True faith is respectful, compassionate
and devoid of hatred.
As we take up this challenge, let us cherish the good things around us -
things we may have taken for granted until one week ago. Let us greet the New
Year -- and every new morning--by giving thanks for those blessings, and resolving
to make ourselves worthy of them.