We ran as fast as possible between the trees and the moss and the long green plants brushing against our skin. The sound of bombs dropping all around us rang in our ears, as we bled and sweat in our uniforms. Each with an injury, causing us to slow our pace and let the enemy get closer so they could kill us easier. A bassist. An engineer. A drag racer. A barber. An accountant. All sons. We all had an identity somewhere. In a state, in a country where this was supposed to be our choice. Not our parent’s, not the president’s, not the government’s, ours. High pitched screams sounded as bullets pierced hot exposed flesh. Several tripped because of the jungle floor, some because of a lost limb, some because we were klutzy from fear. I looked back from my fear-ridden path and saw my friends being trampled on by marching soldiers and tanks. Johnny, Biff, Rick, Tommy and even Julian. All guys I had once seen smile when I told jokes to them. I slept in the same room countless times with these guys. I watched as they spit blood from their lips and their eyes rolled back in their head. This was the glory I heard my father speak of, when bragging of military service. Protecting the promise of the promised land was our duty. Protecting the lies of the “promised” land was what we did. I ran until my body felt completely depleted. The ground exploded from underneath me and I was almost killed several times. Sweat and blood poured down my arms and legs. I panted, hoping for the breath to come back to me, but it seemed as if it would never happen.
If you have a Facebook, you’ve probably seen a Humans of New York (HONY) post at least once. HONY was started in the summer of 2010 by Brandon Stanton as a photography project. Stanton walks the streets of New York City and photographs the intriguing people who live there.
Stanton has a remarkable talent for talking to complete strangers and photographing them in a way that lets you see just a glimpse of their everyday lives, including a quote by the subject. Sometimes these quotes are playful and innocent, but sometimes they’re extremely personal.
For example, one post showed a young man with a Mohawk and tattoos wearing spikes and leather. In his quote, the man explained that he went to jail for threatening to kill an older man who was stalking his younger sister. Many times Stanton photographs people’s hands or feet as they confess something personal, to keep their identity hidden. But even the photos that don’t show the hardship in people’s eyes somehow manage to show emotion.
Although the photos from NYC have always touched my heart, HONY’s newest adventure has done something incredible. In August, Stanton set out on a 50-day adventure around the world to photograph a whole array of people. While on this adventure, Stanton visited the Middle East.
Since 2001, the Middle East has been depicted as a desolate land full of barbarians and terrorists. Since then, it’s been hard to humanize the Middle East. But in the 13 years since 9/11, Stanton has done something that no one else has: he somehow overcame that barrier, and humanized the Middle East in a way that is absolutely beautiful.
If you’re a faithful HONY follower, you can appreciate the conversations that Stanton has with his subjects in New York. When you compare the posts from New York and the Middle East, you can see the same issues come up. One post in particular, a college-aged girl in Jordan explains that she pushes people away because she’s afraid to get hurt. I don’t know about other girls my age, but I’ve felt that way a million times.
Some of the heavier stories include a shop owner recalling the day the Taliban ripped apart his store and killed his friend. Seeing the sadness and terror in his eyes as he recalled the event is truly amazing. We hear about these things on the news, but we brush them off. Seeing a photo of the person, and seeing the words they have said really bring it home.
Since 9/11, there’s been so much judgment and hate towards Middle Easterners. I can recall snide remarks being made about some of my high school classmates who were of Middle Eastern descent, even if they lived in the US for their entire life. What HONY has done in the Middle East may be the most beautiful art project I’ve ever seen. Reading what these people have to say and what they’ve been through is heart wrenching.
No matter what stereotypes an area has, we must remember that the stereotypes are only true for a small group. As humans, we have to open our hearts and see that there are others who have the same battles, and there are some who have seen horrors beyond our imagination. Regardless, we need to start realizing these are people, just like us.
I challenge everyone to spend just 30 minutes scrolling through HONY. It will give you an amazing new perspective on not only the Middle East, but the people you pass on the streets. You never know what amazing stories someone has.
Shambling corpses are America’s new love affair. From the lauded show “The Walking Dead” to a zombie equivalent of “Twilight,” the rotting reminders of humanity’s dark side are everywhere. Of course, it has become a popular pastime to speculate on whether a zombie apocalypse could actually happen.
A common theme brought up by the “it could happen” crowd are plagues and parasites. There’s a parasite called toxoplasmosa gondii that infects rats, takes over their brains, and purposely gets them eaten by cats, so that the parasite can breed in the cats’ intestines. Continue reading Will the dead really walk?
Perhaps no other art form throughout recent history has had a bigger impact on the world than music. Music is virtually everywhere. It’s on the radio, played in grocery stores, retail stores, and many other types of businesses. It’s in television commercials, appears on TV shows, and is played at many different festivals and group events.
It’s hard to deny the impact music has had on society. Continue reading The impact of music
The field was buried in a white hue. One by one the soldiers, bundled in their puffy jackets and mismatched wool gloves, stared at their ammunition busily crafting more. Their faces flushed from the cold; they paid no attention to their breath as it stayed suspended in the air. Clouds covered the sun and painted our skin grey. I looked around at our army. Everyone was so young. Some of us weren’t even six yet. Others barely in the double digits. Many people will try and glorify this war, but I assure you, there is nothing more horrifying than a snowball fight. Continue reading Snowball fight