Life on earth can be surprising. Life can also be unbelievably treacherous. Humans and nature conspire to destroy homes. We brave institutional oppression. Simply surviving childhood can be a struggle. Life can change in a flash, no matter where you grow up. The world can often seem to collapse around us. And in an instant, everything is gone. So, sometimes we feel powerless wanting nothing else but to fight back. Even when facing all but impossible odds.
Sometimes everything can be too much to handle, sometimes humanity seems to hate who it is and sometimes it may even seem truly heartless especially for those born into less than fortunate circumstances. But in the face of the truly terrible suffering, all we can do is try, try and try again. And dare to conquer this complex life or make the world seem a bit more magical while always remembering to help those who can’t help themselves.
Whether that means fixing what the world has helped to break Or having the decency to be a bit more mindful of those who have been left behind. With the world as it is, we all sometimes need to be reminded not to jump, even if everything can seem quite trivial. But there are moments even amongst the greatest despair when the world proves that it’s all worth it. When everything that seems to have been lost is somehow given back, when the earth we live on reveals its true beauty, and we’d never think of jumping, unless jumping means we’re going home.
Both cruel and kind, life is filled with moments that will either break you down or lift you up. Life on earth leaves us vulnerable to sudden, unpredictable changes that can either lead to devastation or euphoria. These photographs, which have captured some of the most powerful terrible and terrific moments humans have faced, are once-in-a-lifetime shots that will change your perspective.
1. Life on earth can be surprising.
This fight broke out in Barcelona between riot police and firefighters after proposed spending cuts for the Spanish region of Catalonia in 2013 were released. They were afraid they may lose their jobs.
2. Sometimes immense pain can lead to happiness.
During the 2011 Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, Thailand, attendees performed various body piercings to rid themselves of evil spirits.
3. Life can also be unbelievably treacherous.
This photo was taken moments before the Indian child dove into the overflowing Ganges River as it flooded the region during the country’s monsoon season in August of 2013. Thousands were left dead or missing.
4. Humans and nature conspire to destroy homes.
A mud volcano erupted in Indonesia’s eastern Java Island in 2006, destroying 12 villages. The eruption was blamed on excessive gas drilling from the Lapindo Baratas drilling company. In 2013, these villagers covered themselves in mud to dramatize the destruction of their homes and the ongoing struggle that has ensued.
5. We brave institutional oppression.
A 2013 gay pride rally taking place in St. Petersburg was declared illegal under Russian law for being “gay propaganda.” The rally turned bloody as activists and Russian nationalists clashed. Only 40 gay rights supporters were in the rally, but they were surrounded by people throwing rocks, eggs and fists.
6. Simply surviving childhood can be a struggle.
An orphaned child in the wake of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Following the devastation, adoptions of orphaned Haitian children were taken on as a relief effort by multiple countries, including the United States.
7. Life can change in a flash, no matter where you grow up.
Thirteen year old John Fahy Jr. mourns his father and younger brother in 1996, just two months after his mother died of cancer. John Fahy and his 6-year-old son, James, were killed by a house fire in which John Jr. and his sister were the only ones rescued.
8. The world can often seem to collapse around us.
A Palestinian family’s home in East Jerusalem was demolished in 2013 by the state municipality for not having proper safety permits. The family claimed they were still waiting for the permits to arrive.
9. And in an instant, everything is gone.
The Japanese earthquake of 2011 inflicted a death toll over 15,000. Nearly 10,000 more people were either injured or labeled missing.
10. So sometimes we feel powerless.
In 2010, an Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade member searched the family house of this Iraqi child while looking for his father. The father was suspected of planting IEDs in Baghdad, Iraq.
11. Wanting nothing else but to fight back.
A Palestinian girl raised her fist to punch this Israeli soldier while protesting the expansion of the Jewish settlement of Halamish into the West Bank in late 2012,
12. Even when facing all but impossible odds.
In 2011, protests led by students opposing the Chilean educational system ended up taking a violent turn as protesters and riot police clashed.
13. Sometimes everything can be too much to handle.
A Chinese paramilitary police recruit being shipped to start his service in the Zhejiang province began to tear up in this photo, taken on Dec. 12, 2010.
14. Sometimes humanity seems to hate who it is.
The head of Gay Forum of Ukraine, Svyatoslav Sheremet, was beaten up in 2012 on his way to announce that a pride parade was being cancelled.
15. And sometimes it may even seem truly heartless.
During a public protest on March 11, 2011 in Niterói, Brazil, a cop named Captain Bruno Schorcht discharged his pepper-spray onto a small girl.
16. Especially for those born into less than fortunate circumstances.
30 years after the Vietnam War, many families in more remote villages are still suffering from the effects of the toxic nerve gas dioxin used in Agent Orange. Both of these younger men, pictured here in 2011, are in their twenties and have been suffering with physical and emotional trauma since birth.
17. But in the face of the truly terrible suffering, all we can do is try.
During massive floods taking place in Cuttack City, India, in 2011, a heroic villager saved numerous stray cats by carrying them with a basket balanced on his head.
18. Try and try again.
This 1967 photograph shows an anti-war protester sticking carnations into the rifle barrels of soldiers protecting the Pentagon.
19. And dare to conquer this complex life.
In Ban Khok, Thailand every household is required to live with a Royal Cobra. Being able to tame the venomous snake is considered a highly respected talent. This photo, taken in April 2010, shows Mr. Vukjow Mare and his cobra.
20. Or make the world seem a bit more magical.
The Space Shuttle Enterprise flew over Manhattan in 2012, on its way to New York City to become a part of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum as a special exhibit.
21. While always remembering to help those who can’t help themselves.
In China’s Wolong Nature Reserve, panda cubs are released in a highly delicate maneuver where employees wear panda costumes to minimize human interaction.
22. Whether that means fixing what the world has helped to break.
The VA hospital in Des Moines, Iowa provides various healthcare services to veterans, many of them requiring special needs.
23. Or having the decency to be a bit more mindful of those who have been left behind.
Attendees of the 2012 New York Fashion Week posed for an extremely poorly located picture outside of Moynihan Station.
24. With the world as it is, we all sometimes need to be reminded not to jump.
Kevin Berthia was talked out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge by this police officer in 2005. He has since become an advocate for suicide prevention and has started a family.
25. Even if everything can seem quite trivial.
Radio broadcasts have reached out from the world to about a diameter of 200 lightyears, seen to scale in the Milky Way Galaxy above. According to Carl Sagan’s science fiction novel, “Contact,” Hitler’s speech at the Nuremburg rallies might have been the first radio signal strong enough to be ever be picked up by aliens.
26. But there are moments even amongst the greatest despair when the world proves that it’s all worth it.
Rosemary McDermott and her husband, Anthony Minor, discovered that their family records had survived the Hurricane Sandy devastation of Breezy Point, Queens in 2012.
27. When everything that seems to have been lost is somehow given back.
Five-year-old Sahil Saeed is reunited with his mother and father after being kidnapped by gunmen in Pakistan in 2010.
28. When the earth we live on reveals its true beauty, and we’d never think of jumping.
Alex Honnold is an America rock climber who often goes without any safety ropes to catch him if he makes a mistake and falls. The photo above shows him in the middle of a solo free climb of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in California.
29. Unless jumping means we’re going home.
The highest jump of all time is started by Felix Baumgartner in late 2012. In the 127,851 feet, Baumgartner exceeded the speed of sound.