Notre Dame, a building with much spiritual, cultural, and historical value to the people of France, burned. The world (i.e. the West) wailed in dismay, and well over $1B has been raised for the rebuilding effort (if only the Church was so generous with its obscene wealth?). But there is a hypocrisy that many appear to have overlooked in all of this – what about our planet?
I’m the first to say I appreciate good history and culture, and hearing about Notre Dame going up in flames is obviously a sad occasion – thankfully the main structure survived. But there are many other wonders in this world – natural, and in one example also just as spiritual and historical. Churches and other such edifices can be rebuilt, but if only such fervor could be mustered when speaking of our irreplaceable environment.
Floods in Iran that have affected much of the country, and over 10 million people (which most media outlets have failed to mention, and the US sanctions have simply exacerbated the situation – but it’s Iran, so who cares?). The Great Barrier Reef is on the verge of extinction, and yet the Australian Labor Party refuses to rule out the Adani coalmine, and the Coalition are hellbent on raining down hell for cash. Global ocean temperatures are rising much faster than previous estimates anticipated.
We have money to save a church, but not the planet? People can shed tears over a material tourist attraction but not a natural wonder? When did we become so selfish? Trick question – cynicism says we’ve always been this way.
But the hypocrisy doesn’t just stop there. What about another spiritual site that isn’t connected with the Church and is also natural? How about 800-year-old trees that have significant cultural value to an indigenous population? Many have, in the past few days, compared the outcry from Notre Dame to the relative silence regarding the bulldozing of many trees that are sacred to our Aboriginal people here in Australia. And Notre Dame was an accident – over 260 of these trees are to be victim to planned bulldozing for a highway.
I won’t pretend to understand the spiritual or cultural significance of either scenario, but it is blatantly clear that there is a double standard. When it comes down to it, mankind’s structures, current or future, always win over nature. Even if that nature is equally significant. Even if that nature is vital to our survival.
We watched a church burn – will we watch the world follow?
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