the baggy trousered misanthropist

missives issued from the lair

An anti-poaching team guards one of four remaining white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Image via worldpressphoto.org.

Once upon a time, we humans used abstract concepts like good and evil to evaluate and understand ambiguities in our behaviour. These days, availability of information and opportunity for people to put forth their side of the story has given us a glimpse of the vast spectrum of motivations and reasoning that lie between good and evil and yet many of us still default to those comfortable, familiar terms when confronted with something we don’t understand.

A Ukranian sex worker called Maria smokes a cigarette between clients. Image via worldpressphoto.org.

These photographs, all prizewinners at World Press Photo 2012, present a glimpse into that vast, confusing world that thrives in that spectrum we ignore for reasons of convenience. Each tells a story we owe it to ourselves to imagine, to think through and try to empathise with, whether beautiful or so desperately sad and painful it’s hard to even look. But we have to.

If we, as fellow human beings, can’t even examine images depicting scenes that make us feel a bit uncomfortable or confused, can we seriously call all of this progress?

Jamila is disabled and in need of treatment after being hit by a missile during an Israeli Defence Force operation in Gaza. Image: Simona Ghizzoni via worldpressphoto.org.

Child brides in Yemen. Tahani (l) was six on her wedding and used to hide from her husband, who was 25. Image: Stephanie Sinclair via worldpressphoto.org.

In Haiti, more than 50% of the population are illiterate, while over 90% own radios. In this shot, Sister Melianise Gabreus presents her show on Radio Men Kontre. Image: Paolo Woods via worldpressphoto.org.

Marcus & Monica have been married for 65 years. Monica was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007 and Marcus has cared for her in their Buenos Aires apartment since that time. Image: Alejandro Kirchuk via worldpressphoto.org.

Fishing, DRC style. Image: Johnny Haglund, via worldpressphoto.org.

Check out the full gallery of winners at worldpressphoto.org.

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