Notre Dame raises question about values

ARE buildings more important than people? Does it depend on which building, and which people? How does that work? Who decides? Obviously, old buildings matter. Old is important. Heritage, history, cultural identity embedded in every stone, every beam. But still. Does anyone else feeling vaguely nauseated at the speed with which billionaires and multinationals have been hurling their millions at Notre Dame?

Does anyone else slightly despair at how the financial elite are falling over themselves, undoubtedly with a view to having their names engraved on future plaques nailed to future walls, as the real world — the natural world — continues to go up in smoke? Can’t the luxury goods billionaires, the fossil fuel billionaires, the tech billionaires, see even the tiniest irony in their stampede to fund the rebuilding of a famous monument when their money is so desperately needed elsewhere? Elsewhere everywhere? All over?

And seriously, can the burning of an old building – even an old building which has housed a mountain of history from Napolean to that fictional hunchback — really be described as a tragedy? The dictionary says a tragedy is an event which involves death or suffering; stone and glass and wood don’t suffer. People suffer, animals suffer. It’s regrettable that stained glass and priceless paintings and an internationally famous bell tower were destroyed, but it’s hardly a tragedy, is it? Unless actual people were burned alongside the building material — which they were not.

Sign in or register for FREE to continue enjoying and to comment on our great range of opinion writers

Not a member yet? Register here

More on this topic

Justin Trudeau visits fire-ravaged Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s melted roof leaves concerns over lead levels

Notre Dame fire means different things in different countries

In Video: Drone footage reveals extent of fire damage to Notre Dame

More in this Section

Political careers often end in failure, but few fail as spectacularly as Theresa May's

Defeat for moderation that will limit options

Letter to the Editor: Parents should worry about children’s online activity

Progressivemoves will be in the interest of those on left

More by this author

The only good cure for eco-anxiety is action

Living the good life on a hillside in Portugal

It could go Lord of the Flies... fat ones go first

A movement where librarians turn outlaws


Lifestyle

Gardening: Something for everyone at Chelsea Flower Show

The Currabinny Cooks: Crab dishes give a great sense of homely cooking

Shore thing - Many health benefits of seaweed

More From The Irish Examiner