When dealing with aliens, try to be polite, but firm. And always remember that a smile is cheaper than a bullet. —
Automated MNU Instructional Voice - District 9
A US Marine recruit is yelled at by his drill sergeant. The recruits have to endure extreme physical stress during the training that lasts from early morning till late in the evening. They have to respond to their superiors’ orders immediately or face severe reprimands.
Photographer: Eddie Adams
Country: South Carolina, USA
I am not arrogant enough to assume that I know what the meaning of life is. When I contemplate the fact that the universe goes on forever, it is impossible for me to understand. If I think about the endlessness of time; if I think that when I die, everything dies with me since everything is only here because I perceive it through my senses; if I spend too long contemplating what the infinity of the universe means - I could literally go mad. So I block those thoughts out.
We kid ourselves. We kid ourselves to make sense out of things. We have to boil the cosmos down to our own very minute frame of reference or sphere of vision. Then we set ourselves up as God because in our scientific quests we start to understand a dew of the mechanisms of the life process.
It’s still egocentric, but to condense it down to a tiny microcosm: We’re here to biologically reproduce, like cats and dogs and bacteria reproduce. Looked at in this way, the meaning of life, for me, has been to give birth to and to love my children. Now, of course, my babies have grown. So for me, today, the meaning of life is nature. For me, the meaning of life is the wallabies and kangaroos hopping around my house, the spectacular parrots. For me, the meaning of life is the wonder of evolution that produces the most extraordinary mix of species of which there are millions on earth and which we are now rapidly destroying. This rather strange species called man is an evolutionary aberrant intent on destroying nature and, therefore, the meaning of life.
Ah, the smell of flowers. I’ve just put flowers in a vase. The meaning of life is the flowers in the vase. —
Helen Caldicott, Australian pediatrician and antinuclear proponent, is founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
You probably heard we ain’t in the prisoner-takin’ business; we in the killin’ Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin’. —
Lt. Aldo Raine - Inglorious Basterds
Students are burnt by a petrol bomb during street fights.
Photographer: Toshio Aoi
Country: Kyoto, Japan
Right now, living in San Francisco as a gay man, I quite often feel that I’m in the middle of a holocaust. I’ve lost several hundred people. I can’t say that there were close friends, but easily several hundred people I know have perished. I walk down the street and I see in a newspaper that a friend has died. Since I’m constantly surrounded by that information, it has a tendency to permeate that consciousness and affect what I believe is the message of life.
I have had experiences in the past few years that have proven to me that we’re all part of a greater whole and that the reality of our existence is greater than our five senses can fathom. The divisions and boundaries that we perceive based upon our five senses are, in effect, an illusion. It’s my belief that the meaning of life changes from day to day, second to second. I believe we’re here to learn that we’re part of a creative force - I would go so far as to call that force divine. We’re here to learn that we can create a world and that we have a choice in what we create, and that our world, if we choose, can be a heaven or hell.
Thomas E. O’Connor, AIDS activist and lecturer who has had AIDS-related complex for nearly a decade, is the author of Living with AIDS: Reaching Out.
People don’t realize this, but loneliness is underrated. —
Tom - (500) Days of Summer
South Vietnam national police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes a suspected Viet Cong member.
Photographer: Eddie Adams
Country: Saigon, Vietnam
For years I have listened to people during a critical stage of despair, a stage where they’ve felt life no longer had a meaning and they’ve been tempted to just end it all. At that point in someone’s life, there is no point in trying to hand over some package and say, “Here, believe this” or “Think this” or “Do that” and hope that it’ll offer some kind of salvation. Nobody else’s package really matters at that instant. And because I don’t have a package to sell, what I’ve offered has been my own companionship in those moments when someone is trying to tolerate no meaning or to tolerate life not seeming to be worth the trouble or to tolerate the sense, as I did at an early age, that “Life isn’t for me and it’s gonna stretch on a long time and I might be doing myself and everybody a big favor by ending it right now.” Sometimes the most valuable thing you can offer is not an answer but your presence, your being there to share the feeling of loneliness, your being there while someone goes on breathing in and out, whether it matters or not. Usually, given enough time, there’ll be something that’ll click, that’ll help that person get out of that frame of mind and move on to something else since that frame of mind never lasts. Maybe it’ll be something quite simple: being needed by someone or finding some small pleasure that’ll help that person feel he can go on.
Having shared in these moments of loneliness, I come to a sort of conclusion that the answer, if there is one, is tied up with human compassion. That’s it. We are here to be there for someone else. — Sally Casper, suicide prevention volunteer, is a child abuse counselor.