World Population Day Special: The Power Of Crowds

Olympic torch relay in Shenzen, ChinaPhoto:
Image: Steve Jurvetson

World Population Day is not only a time to reflect on the many ways in which we could improve the lives of the Earth’s 6.7 billion citizens but also a chance to appreciate the power of the people – our energy, determination and ability to achieve when we put our minds together. The following ten images show that even in a crowd, everybody counts.

What makes us gather you ask? Good question. What could be strong enough to make us want to rub shoulders with people we don’t even know? As the following images will show, quite a few things have motivated us in the past and are continuing to unite us in the present. See for yourself.

1. Sports unite – then:
NY Times Square, World Series, 1920Photo:
Image: The Brown Brothers

Sports have a great potential for uniting people from various socioeconomic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Here, the World Series filled up New York’s Times Square on 12th October, 1920 when tens of thousands gathered just to listen to updates from the Cleveland Indians vs. Brooklyn Robins game.

2. …and now – a sea of red, white and blue at the University of Florida:
University of Florida, GainesvillePhoto:
Image: Pedro Alocer

3. People everywhere – the torch relay in Shenzen, China, at the 2008 Summer Olympics:
Olympic torch relay in Shenzen, ChinaPhoto:
Image: Steve Jurvetson

Entertainment never fails to unite, even spontaneously when crowds gather on the street or at a planned event like a concert, fair, art event or even a book launch.

4. Houdini’s New York tightrope walk in 1916 united men in bowler hats who believed in magic:
Houdini crowd in 1916Photo:
Image via houdini tribute

5. The Woodstock crowd in 1969 united for peace, love and music:
Woodstock crowd in 1969Photo:
Image via linds3y

6. The releases of the Harry Potter books drew huge crowds worldwide, here at a bookstore in San Francisco, CA:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release in San FranciscoPhoto:
Image: Zack Sheppard

7. Crowds watching and participating in the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
The carnival in RioPhoto:
Image: Ygorrj359

Religion and religious beliefs and rituals, if coupled with tolerance, do unite rather than divide.

8. People bathing in the Ganges in Hardwar, India:
Hindus at a ritual bath in the GangesPhoto:
Image: Vikas Ragta

Grabbing an oppportunity and striving for success is something anyone can relate to. Even competitors will admire each other’s determination.

9. Chinese students at a career fair at the Shenzhen convention center in 2008:
Career fair in ShenzhenPhoto:
Image via China Digital Times

Finally, a shared destination or goal brings people together, whether they want it or not.

10. Japanese commuters spilling out of a crowded train station:
Japanese commutersPhoto:
Image via fareastgizmos

Inspired? We are. The motto of this year’s 20th World Population Day is to “build awareness of the importance of educating girls to a wide range of development issues, including poverty, human rights and gender equality.” Investing in the education and health of women and girls has already narrowed the gender gap and contributed to the empowerment and equality of women worldwide, resulting in increased national incomes, productivity and agricultural profits.

Fight poverty – educate girls:
20th World Population Day posterPhoto:
Image via UNFPA

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