The cathedral was burning.
It seemed like it was burning all day.
The images, when I could bring myself to look at them, were heartbreaking.
It seemed as if the whole thing were about to collapse. Indeed, memories of September 11th running through my mind, of that impossible moment when the first tower began to collapse in on itself, I could already feel the crushing weight of it coming down in flame and smoke.
Then…, it didn’t.
And the first images from inside came with a glimmer of hope.
She could be rebuilt, this thing of immense age and beauty.
She could be saved.
And almost as quickly, there was the rush of donations, most notably from the super rich, but from common folks too. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to help.
But then something else started to happen.
Judgement and scorn began to creep in.
What about the black churches, burned down in Louisiana?!
What about the drinking water in Flint?!?
You are donating to the WRONG cause, and if all of these rich fat-cats wanted to help, well there’s plenty of people going hungry all around them!
And suddenly we’ve got the “Cause Police” out there serving the public and making sure society knows which causes are worthy of their disposable income.
The Polar Bears are starving…, “Isn’t there a homeless vet you could feed?”
Doctors Without Borders? “Aren’t there any sick people in America you care about?”
What if I contribute to Public Radio? “FLINT FREAKING MICHIGAN!”
The Arbor Day Foundation? “I swear on all that is holy that WE will find you and punch you in the face if WE find out you’re giving it up for some shitty trees!”
Look, here’s the thing…,
It is good that people care about things. It’s absolutely vital, I’d say.
They do not have to care about the things that are important to me, or to you. And if they do care about those things, and it IS possible to care about more than one thing at a time, they don’t have to care about those things as much.
I’ve never been to Notre Dame de Paris, and I may never get the chance. Certainly, it seems unlikely that I’ll ever step foot through her doors, but I studied her during Art History classes, I’ve sketched her and painted her and poured over images of her. She’s an eight hundred and fifty year old marvel of art and architecture, and if I want to contribute to her preservation that’s MY business, requiring neither permission nor judgement from anyone.
And please spare me the diatribe against the Catholic Church.
I’m bloody PAGAN. I literally couldn’t care less if they ever hold another mass in the thing. I am never going to donate anything to a Christian church (and that includes those that got burned down in Louisiana, by the way).
The Church just leases the building, if you wondered. They don’t own it.
What I care about is irreplaceable art and architecture, handed down to us all, Christian and Infidel alike, which can still be preserved for generations to come, if enough people are willing to act.
If that’s not good enough for you, you’re welcome to f*ck off.
What’s more, if you want to get bent out of shape because some billionaire decided to spend money to preserve something beautiful, instead of throwing cash where YOU think they should, that’s time and energy better spent picking litter up off the side of the freeway.
Or don’t you care about the environment?!