New and other media outlets love doing an "Images of XXX"—or, in a year such as this, an "Images of The Decade"—photo essay. But as 2010 comes to a close, the following recent image, taken in the closing days of the year, just sums up the year, if not the decade past, and is a good place to start the next one:
It was taken on a trip "up north" in Pakistan and captured some pictures of schools in the Swat Valley. Taken just on its own, the picture captures so much: the raw beauty, the pathos, the Pakistani spirit. But as a symbol of the year and all that came to pass in it, the image has another layer of symbolism. It was taken in the Swat Valley, Ground Zero for both of the "transcendent struggle of our time"—however you want to define the hot war being waged on The Roof of The World—and for the natural world we live in and the crises, both natural and man-made, we are faced with. And it presents you the people, for they are people, who are our future as a planet.
I could write for hours about both this and the other pictures in the Facebook album it comes from, but let me leave you with this almost more trenchant picture from the same source. This image, at least to me, adds a degree of closeness to the edge of a chasm:
Look into this image; see if you can see past the damaged top of the blackboard (how many of the younger folks out here in the West will ever see a real blackboard?) and into the valley beyond.
What do you see?
[Photo credit: Umair Ahmad Khan]