The Falling Man

Whatever your conclusions about the events of September 11th, 2001, I suspect you will find this article of interest.

In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity’s divine suction or by what awaits him. His arms are by his side, only slightly outriggered. His left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually. His white shirt, or jacket, or frock, is billowing free of his black pants. His black high-tops are still on his feet.

In all the other pictures, the people who did what he did—who jumped—appear to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale. They are made puny by the backdrop of the towers, which loom like colossi, and then by the event itself. Some of them are shirtless; their shoes fly off as they flail and fall; they look confused, as though trying to swim down the side of a mountain. The man in the picture, by contrast, is perfectly vertical, and so is in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him. He splits them, bisects them: Everything to the left of him in the picture is the North Tower; everything to the right, the South. Though oblivious to the geometric balance he has achieved, he is the essential element in the creation of a new flag, a banner composed entirely of steel bars shining in the sun.

Some people who look at the picture see stoicism, willpower, a portrait of resignation; others see something else—something discordant and therefore terrible: freedom. There is something almost rebellious in the man’s posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it; as though he were a missile, a spear, bent on attaining his own end. He is, fifteen seconds past 9:41 a.m. EST, the moment the picture is taken, in the clutches of pure physics, accelerating at a rate of thirty-two feet per second squared. He will soon be traveling at upwards of 150 miles per hour, and he is upside down. In the picture, he is frozen; in his life outside the frame, he drops and keeps dropping until he disappears.


Is It Moral to Volunteer for the US Armed Services?

I volunteered to serve in the United States Air Force and do not regret the decision.  During my time as an Intelligence Analyst, my unit was involved in Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  I saw some extraordinary things and the DOD paid for college and grad school.

However, since I left active duty in 1997 I have come to a better understanding of what “Just War” involves, and our nation’s history of nearly non-stop war….for land, wealth and control.  It began with our rebellion against a Christian monarch in England because 3% taxes were unreasonable.  Today most of us pay several times that just in sales taxes…and 10 times that in income taxes in support of a anti-Christian state which persecutes us.

Rarely has the United States fought a defensive war, and even if that prerequisite is ignored, our means have almost always been unjust (such as with the intentional fire-bombing of German civilians or the atomic bombing of Japanese civilians).

Having abandoned our own constitutional republic for a corporatist mobocracy, today we seem to be fighting offensive actions designed to force secular democracy on others.  This wouldn’t even satisfy the neo-conservative principles I once believed in, and that many on the right still cling to as if they were taught by Christ Himself.  Trump’s recent bombing of Syria brought out the worst in the Right, most of whom applauded the decision, but none of whom could explain why it is good that we helped create, fund, arm and train ISIS, and bomb their enemies (who have a history of protecting Christians from Islamic persecution, and who, BTW, have done nothing to the United States).

When I explain to those who advocate for these offensive wars that we are actually guilty of far worse than what they claim the enemy has done to us, hysteria ensues.  And yet it is undeniable (even the Pentagon admits this), we have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children since Muslim terrorists killed 2,977 people on 9/11.

None of these people did anything to us, and yet we killed them.  They pose absolutely no threat to us at all.  We killed them for a political objective.  How then are we different from the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11?  How are we not, in fact, far worse?  And….we’re not done yet.  There is no end in sight, in fact.

Another rarely discussed point is the cost to our own soldiers, and their families.  Thousands have died, tens of thousands more suffer from grievous physical and mental wounds, and more than 100,000 have committed suicide since 9/11.  For what?  As a people we are less free than ever, bankrupt and the threat from Islamic terror remains (who can be surprised given the number of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters we have killed).

As as consequence of my study of the question over the last 20 years, I have gradually discouraged my sons and other potential recruits from volunteering for military service.  I have a long list of reasons, of which the likelihood of participating in immoral wars is just the first.

Whether you agree or not with the Just War Doctrine, I encourage you to read this provocative article.