On May 23, photographer Phil Hatcher-Moore saw Naneyan Lokopir, a 13-year-old in South Sudan, lying on the ground of a cholera treatment center. That same day in the U.K., Andrew Testa watched a man pray during a vigil for victims of the Manchester Arena bombing.
On Aug. 21, Meridith Kohut stood near children hovering over the casket of their baby cousin, who had been severely malnourished, in Venezuela. That day, Jim Urquhart pointed his lens out the window of an airplane, 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, where he caught a stunning view of the solar eclipse.
On Oct. 1, Andres Kudacki came across a white horse in hurricane-battered Puerto Rico. That night, David Becker was in the media tent at a country music festival in Las Vegas when gunshots suddenly rang out.
Images from those six moments and more stand out in a year of environmental disasters and polarizing elections, humanitarian crises and annual parades, mass shootings and awards shows. They couldn’t feel further from one another, yet a close look at these 100 pictures reveals a comforting web of similarity.
It’s visible in the ways we grieve and hold one another, the ways we dance and run and cry, the way we throw our hands out in joy or fear. Each picture on its own represents a moment that cannot be duplicated. Taken together they can help remind us how, despite fortune or hardship or evil, we’re more alike than we are different.
Here, TIME’s photo editors present an unranked selection of the 100 best images of the year.