Look At It

I’ve never met him. But I’ve seen his picture.
Once.
And that was enough.

It was too awful.
Too horrific.
Too unbelievable.
Just like the day it was taken.

So I told myself twenty years ago that I’d never look at it again.
And I haven’t.
Until this week.
And instantly, the potency of the horror revived.

I don’t even know what his name is. Or rather, was.
Norberto?
Jonathan?
No one really knows.
But what we do know is what we can plainly see.
He’s a man who’s falling.
A real man.
From the top of a building in New York.
Two decades ago.

A picture-perfect Tuesday punctuated by the impending death of the Falling Man.

Who went to work as usual. We all did.
Who took the train or parked a car.
Who rode an elevator.
Who opened a briefcase.
Who assumed a schedule.

Who lived. Until that option was taken away.

If you’re young, you probably haven’t seen it.
I envy you.
But also challenge you.
Google it.
Then look at it.
Quickly. Just once. Look.

It actually happened.
Do you remember?
“Of course”, say the many.
“Not very well”, say the younger.
“No”, say a swelling minority.

We must never forget.

The tragedy. The souls. Lost.

And the unity. The scared Americans. Together.

Those members of Congress singing “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol.
Those fleeting moments when tribes and factions became petty.
When Blue and Red disappeared.
And the struggle of a nation was shared.
This too happened.

We must never forget.

That life, every single moment, is precious. And valuable. And unpromised.

That evil is real.
Not some religious contrivance.
Real.

That shock has a shelf-life. Even 9/11.
Its rate of decay in proportion to one’s distance from or relationship to the tragedy.

But that also there’s good news.
Our perspective can be adjusted. We can fight the fade.
We can come together, again.
It’ll take intention, determination, and humility.
And this week, a glance at something both unbelievable and undeniable.

I know it’s hard.
But look at it.

We must never forget.
With God’s help and our courage, we won’t.

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