Threats, Violence, And Existential Dread: The Most Powerful Images Of The Decade

10 December 2019
Usain Bolt of Jamaica looks at Andre De Grasse (CAN) of Canada as they compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Men's 100m Semifinals at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 14, 2016.
Image: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Usain Bolt of Jamaica looks at Andre De Grasse (CAN) of Canada as they compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Men's 100m Semifinals at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 14, 2016.

10 years is a long time, but these images prove some moments are truly unforgettable

When Dictionary.com names ‘existential’ as the word of the year, it’s clear that 2019 has not been easy. The word conjures images of the great philosophers, plaguing their consciousness with questions about what it means to be alive, our choices, and what our purpose is in the face of numerous challenges. But it also suggests the threat of crisis, because how we choose to face such adversity is where the real story lies.

There’s been a lot of that this year. From the climate crisis seeing youth rally together to demand action and the likes of Greta Thunberg proving age is never a barrier to the voicing of opinions and having impact, the threat global warming poses to our lives – not to mention wildlife and natural habitats – is cause for grave concern.

But to look back over the last decade is to see that threat and violence continue to characterise world affairs. From gun violence to white nationalism now finding a place to thrive through online communities and forums, to Black Lives Matter protests and protests for democracy, never has there been a time of more conflict and uncertainty when it comes to our future.

It might be hard to remain hopeful during all of this, but it is possible. To listen to Thunberg speak so passionately about the environment is to come away feeling inspired, and empowered to make a difference. Similarly in sport, the likes of Usain Bolt, Eliud Kipchoge and Megan Rapinoe suggest that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it and that the human body truly is extraordinary. 

Delivering some of the biggest news stories as they break, Reuters’ photographers know what it takes to capture the essence of a story in a single shot. So naturally, when the publication published its “Pictures of the Decade” gallery, there were a number of powerful images that left us reeling. But there are also images that are hopeful, showing the beauty of the human spirit in all its glory and suggesting that even as we do grapple with an existential crisis, sometimes through this adversity triumph blossoms.

(Image: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, April 15, 2019.

(Image: REUTERS/Mainichi Shimbun)

A wave approaches Miyako City from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck the area in Miyako, Japan, March 11, 2011. 

(Image: REUTERS/Stephanie Keith)

Kandy Freeman participates in a Black Lives Matter protest in front of Trump Tower in New York City, US, January 14, 2017.

(Image: REUTERS/Pete Souza)

US President Barack Obama and his team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011. 

(Image: REUTERS)

Anti-government protestors protect themselves with umbrellas among tear gas during a demonstration near Central Government Complex in Hong Kong, China.


Via GQ Australia