This is a guest post from Douglas Balmain. It will sure stoke up some conversation… Thanks for his contribution:
It took some restraint to hold this back until now. I was writing like mad the day of the fire, swept up with the flames in a swelter of frustrations. But, when attempting to convey clear-headed ideas, rarely does playing into the storm of emotion benefit their delivery…
…so, I’ve allowed these thoughts to sit while the embers cooled.
Sure, I can understand the upset at seeing it burn. It’s a symbol of history, a fine example of architecture, artistry, and human accomplishment — I can only imagine the recurring revenue it generates, both directly and indirectly.
Despite humanity’s general state of discordant dysfunction, the recent fire of Notre Dame proved that we — as a species — are capable of unification and cooperation. But, why must it be the sight of this monument burning that provides the catalyst for our unified grief, effort, and resolve?
Why must we ignore history? Why must we ignore the facts?
Why do we continue to cling so desperately to these tainted symbols of human folly — even in the face of the ever-compiling and condemning evidence that now towers over these stone expressions, casting them in nefarious, inky shadows?
Are we so fragile that we cannot allow for apostasy — are we unable to admit having been vulnerable, misguided, and wrong? Or, because we once revered something, because we once swore our allegiance and belief in a duplicitous institution — because we were once controlled and manipulated by its influence — must we now remain superficially faithful to it as a means of protecting the fragility of our egos and evading our fears of uncertainty?
Imagine if we could redirect the funding, time, and dedicated effort that we’ve poured into Notre Dame and structures like it—redirect the work and resources we’ve gifted to the construction and upkeep of these symbols of man-made religion-by-force, of war, oppression, division, sexism, pedophilia, dogmatism, judgement, and shame—and reinvest it in solving an issue of human impact.
Take a moment to consider the effects of our kind, of the colossal problems we’ve created and are faced with: the rapid extinction of species and loss of biodiversity, pollution, over-population, malnutrition, war, trafficking, the list goes on (and on…). And yet, the great unifier of our concerns is the burning pillar of our insidious, human contriving.
Let this cathedral die where it stands. Do not tear it down, do not haul it away. Abandon it. Fence off the city blocks it was built on and let the Earth slowly break it down and reclaim the land where it stands. Let the birds and what few non-domestic animals are left in that region claim it as sanctuary. Let wildflowers grow where the pollinators can gather un-tainted, pesticide-free pollen. Let it stand as a symbol of progress, let its decaying remains prove that humans are willing to reassess their beliefs, to abandon their follies, and work to be better than we have been.
Of course, this expression has been an exercise in futility. Change is not coming. We are weak and insecure; incapable of looking beyond ourselves. The only solace to be found is in knowing that someday soon our cathedrals will fall in unison, and they’ll take us with them when they do.
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