9/11 change let go of fear

9/11 Remembered

New York pre 9/11 with sun rising behind it
Photo by Thomas Svensson on

Post written by myself

Originally published on and

The 11th September 2001 is a day that everyone over about 25 can say where they were and how those around them reacted. Yes, it was a day that changed the world. Iconic? That depends on how you use the word. From the destruction of the Twin Towers and the other plane attacks, terrorism came to America. From that one day, major government decisions were put in place which has led to the culmination of millions of Afghans now needing to be housed in safer parts of the world. 

Terrorism was not a new thing. Many countries had endured it for centuries. Here in the UK, we had learned to live with the uncertainties of bombings by the IRA in our city centres. But I think it was the cunningness, the planning, the audacity, determination, tenacity, single focus, and utter belief in their cause that shocked so many. These men learned to pilot those specific planes with that specific airline so that on their maiden flight they took not only their own lives but the lives of many, many others. 

For Christians, we talk of living for a higher purpose but, especially in the West, how often do we? We may get reprimanded for praying in our schools, hospitals, etc, which we moan about, put a post on social media, but are very rarely willing to, or even asked to, die for. Suddenly on 11th September 2001, we were confronted by a group of radical people who not only talked that talk but walked it too. Here were a people group who would literally stop at nothing, including the loss of their own lives, to achieve what they saw as a higher goal. 

Twenty years on, we are still reeling from it. Still feeling the effects of it. I believe it is because of the Western government’s decisions back in September 2001 which has led to the collective need in the West to help the refugees from Afghanistan. A need unlike anything that has been felt for those fleeing African countries, South American countries, Middle Eastern countries. Very much like when the Twin Towers were hit people were shocked at the numbers who died but more died in poverty across the world, from AIDS-related illnesses, from abuse, on that one day than in the Twin Towers attack, and yet the focus was on the terrorists rather than the things that we could help with. 

Over these last 18 months, we have had to face another unseen enemy – the coronavirus. We are not sure where it is or how it moves. We neither see it nor feel it until it is too late. Also, as with many issues in the rest of the world,  if it doesn’t affect us and those we are close to then we want to pretend it does not exist and to be able to carry on as normal and let “them” deal with it. We only react then when it touches one of those we love when it hits home. This was the same twenty years ago. Terror attacks across the world did get a mention in the media but not for a prolonged period and did not have the same gut reaction as the Twin Towers. They were acts that happened “over there” not on our doorstep. We would only really hear of events if there was a Western person, someone of our nationality, affected by it. So like we are now with Covid-19. 

To me with these two unseen things – terrorists who are willing to die for their cause and the coronavirus that keeps morphing so it can live – we have learned so little about ourselves. We are still only focused on what changes the lives of those we love and those we care for. 

I remember one of the things said by the media after 9/11 was that the planes were aimed at the Twin Towers because they represented Western economy. I think God was trying to tell us all something then about our greed and fears, and how we view our resources, what we in the West saw as “enough”. I think with this pandemic, God has once again highlighted our global economy and how much is lacking in our care for others – something the group involved with the 9/11 atrocity felt a dramatic need to highlight. It has been the less developed nations that have lost most during this pandemic and yet it has been in the West that people have bemoaned many things we have got used to seeing a right not a privilege

The questions arise again and again – are we willing to change? Are we willing to love all people whether they hurt us or not? Godspace’s focus at the moment is about the “new season.” Are we willing to move into a new season in how we view the world and realise how connected we are? My spending decisions affect someone in the Taliban as much as it affects someone in London, New York, the Philippines, etc. 

So my prayers today, 11th September 2021, are that as we remember the loss of life at Ground Zero, and in the other attacks, we remember the immense bravery of the emergency services that day and the days following, the lives and livelihoods lost by so many connected with 9/11. I will also pray that we remember the loss of life – and livelihoods – of those from Covid-19, and also the immense bravery of the health services and other emergency services and support workers around the world over this time. I also pray that all of us, including myself, realise how much is “enough” and let go of our fears of sharing our “more than enough” with others – whether that be time, money, resources, but most especially our love and understanding. As one of my Youthshedz young people said, we cannot meet shame with shame. We cannot meet fear with fear and as Jesus said we cannot meet violence with violence. 

So I pray we will let go of our fear of others and our fears of not having enough and share and share and share. And that with our sharing we can bring peace to a hurting world. 

qualifications skills


Bath Spa graduation bear belonging to Diane Woodrow on her graduation in May 2014
Bath spa graduation bear on my graduation with a 2.1 in History and Creative Writing – May 2014

What is it with qualifications these days? Everyone seems to need them for whatever they do and I think from that we give too much importance to those who are able to gain the qualifications and those who have the skills but either not the academic ability or just haven’t had the time.

The reason I am pondering this at the moment is to do with my work with Youthshedz. Two of the people I work with have both said to me on separate occasions “but I’m not a youth worker”, meaning they don’t have the qualifications. I’ve done a lot of youth work in my time [and still don’t have the degree for it] and have worked with some who have degrees, Masters and even PhDs in youth work, and yet these two people that I’m having the privilege to work with now have such skills with the young people, such empathy, life skills and life experience. Both have got stories to tell of their past and remember what it is like to be young. They aren’t doing youth work to these young people but are down with them, learning along with them, getting their hands dirty, seeing their own issues and changing as they go. The young people love them, respect them and want to be with them. To my mind if that isn’t qualification then I don’t know what is.

But I do think since Tony Blair’s “50% of the school leavers will get to University” bid back in Sept 1999 did so much harm to learning. It put qualifications on a pedestal. No longer a place for those who are very academic and want to study a subject to a higher level, but an expected place for all young people and a failure if they don’t reach it. But also it said to everyone else who, like the people I am working with, that if you don’t have the piece of paper then be careful what you say you are.

As you can see from the above picture I graduated in 2014 after my son had left home and my daughter was in her first year at university. I didn’t intend to go to university, but I loved it and gained much from it. I have since gained a PGDip in Using creative writing for therapeutic purposes, which I use the concepts often in my writing workshops, and have completed two years of a Celtic studies MA, looking at Medieval history and literature in Wales and Ireland, which I incorporate into my writing. What I noticed when I was doing my BA was that so many of the mature students were totally paranoid and fixated about getting a first, yet when I talked to people who had graduated before me they were saying that employers looked highly on mature students even if they had only gained a third because of their life experiences.

It is not the piece of paper that makes you good at your job but your experiences. Yet unfortunately it could be that piece of paper that gets you the extra money. Please can we go back to valuing the skills not the ability to pass qualifications?