THE BROTHERS AT NAGASAKI
Probably one of the most intense picture I have ever posted. Extremely depressing content.
The photograph above was taken by US Marines photographer Joe O’Donnell shortly after the bombing of Nagasaki. He saw things beyond imagining, and the experience left him with depression in his later years. Yet according to O’Donnell’s son, the image above affected him more than any other.
The younger child in the picture is dead. The older boy is his brother, and he’d carried his sibling on his back to a crematory. The older boy stayed and watched his brother burn yet refused to cry. He bit his lip so hard it bled.
The boy had just lost everything to the most destructive force known to mankind. Yet, barefoot, he’d carried his sibling’s body to ensure he was honored properly. It’s a story of the extremes of sadness and bravery—and the photograph captures both.
Human beings took our animal need for palatable food … and turned it into chocolate souffles with salted caramel cream. We took our ability to co-operate as a social species … and turned it into craft circles and bowling leagues and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We took our capacity to make and use tools … and turned it into the Apollo moon landing. We took our uniquely precise ability to communicate through language … and turned it into King Lear.
None of these things are necessary for survival and reproduction. That is exactly what makes them so splendid. When we take our basic evolutionary wiring and transform it into something far beyond any prosaic matters of survival and reproduction … that’s when humanity is at its best. That’s when we show ourselves to be capable of creating meaning and joy, for ourselves and for one another. That’s when we’re most uniquely human.
And the same is true for sex. Human beings have a deep, hard-wired urge to replicate our DNA, instilled in us by millions of years of evolution. And we’ve turned it into an intense and delightful form of communication, intimacy, creativity, community, personal expression, transcendence, joy, pleasure, and love. Regardless of whether any DNA gets replicated in the process.
Why should we see this as sinful? What makes this any different from chocolate souffles and King Lear?
When a grumbly grump who hates everyone and sees the world as dark and cold and unforgiving loves a sunshiney optimist.
When a sunshiney optimist who sees the best in everyone thinks the grumbly grump is the best thing out of the whole beautiful world.
I have never thought about it in this context
that’s actually really, really creepy.
I once pointed this out to my mother and she just stared at me, in stunned silence for ages.
There will always be a girl who is less sober, less secure, with less friends walking in a darker part of town. I want her safe just as much as I want me safe.