What the Notre Dame Fire Says About Society

What The Notre Dame Fire Says About Society

Why has the Notre Dame fire elicited more heartbreak and more donations than the destruction of any other historical site or humanitarian crisis?


I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it is morally wrong to mourn the burning of Notre Dame. I am also not going to tell you that anyone who mourns Notre Dame does not care for the many other tragedies which are taking place across the globe. Nonetheless, I find the amount of media attention and donations which have poured in over such a short period of time for the rebuilding of Notre Dame unsettling considering other such historical destructions, and even humanitarian issues, go unnoticed and disproportionately mourned every day.

On April 15th, a fire raged the Notre Dame and a fire also broke loose in Jerusalem at the ancient Al-Aqsa Mosque. The flames threated a 2000-year-old section of the mosque, but luckily it was contained to the guard booth where it originated. Admittedly, this was a smaller fire, but this does not explain the lack of global outcry at the fact that the third holiest Islamic site after Mecca and Medina also caught fire. In recent history, countless historical Islamic sites have been destroyed with little to no global grief, whereas images of Notre Dame burning and people crying seemed to be everywhere this past week.

To provide further contrast, the fire at Rio de Janeiro's 200-year-old National Museum this past September destroyed the museum completely. There were no reports of injuries, but the loss to Brazilian science, history, and culture was incalculable, two of its vice-directors said. "It was the biggest natural history museum in Latin America. We have invaluable collections. Collections that are over 100 years old," Cristiana Serejo, one of the museum's vice-directors stated. The loss of this museum has been described by Brazilian government officials as "a lobotomy of the Brazilian memory."

The fire was apparently a result of improper upkeep due to a lack of necessary government funding. But where were the tears for the Museu Nacional? Where were the donations? Journalist Simon Allison tweeted "[i]n just a few hours today, 650 million euros was donated to rebuild Notre Dame, in six months, just 15 million euros has been pledged to restore Brazil's National Museum. I think this is what they call white privilege."

Notre Dame has received over a billion dollars of unsolicited donations within days, whereas the UN regularly comes short of its donation requests for humanitarian causes. For example, in February, United Nations There seems to be something twisted in the fact that unsolicited money is being thrown at the rebuilding of this historic Catholic church, but the ruins of other historical sites and even the mass suffering of our fellow humans are perpetually lacking in monetary aid and sympathy.

The burning of Notre Dame is a tragedy and so is the fire at the Al-Aqsa, the burning of the Museu Nacional, the effects of war in Yemen, and, in my opinion, so is the disproportionate sympathy of the public. I'm not asking that you refrain from tears, sympathy, or donations towards Notre Dame; but rather I ask that you match this level of emotion with action towards change. We must put in the effort to educate ourselves and those around us about more than just what western media chooses to show us.

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25 Quotes To Inspire Injured Athletes

“Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over”

Injuries are never fun. And every athlete competing at a high level has had to deal with them at one point or another. Some minor injuries have quick recovery periods of only days or weeks and others could be months or years and may even force an early end to an athlete’s career.

I recently suffered a rib injury and even though I was only out for a short time, I experienced a lot of frustration because of the obstruction to my progress and even anger at the limitations of my own body. Having this injury caused me to reflect on why I am willing to push my body to its limits or maybe even past its limits, why I am willing to hurt, why I am willing to sacrifice my comfort, and whether it’s all worth it.

I also thought about times when I had more long-term injuries. What kept me going? What made me put in the tedious day-to-day work only to come back to the sport less physically fit than I was before? I thought about one of my friends, who worked tirelessly for many months only to be told that she would probably never compete again - and yet -

even having pages ripped from an unfinished chapter in her life, she never lost her passion or her love for the sport.

Injured athletes are inspirational.

They are allowed to be frustrated, they are allowed to be upset. They should be praised for their progress and their perseverance and they should never be torn down or diminished, even if their progress is slow or if they have setbacks. The fact that they are willing to work through that pain and that frustration in hopes of healing their bodies so that they can get back to doing what they love shows their true character and their passion.

Injured athletes are inspirational, but sometimes they need a little inspiration too.

Here’s to the injured athletes.

This one’s for the days you don’t feel like doing your rehab exercises.

This one’s for the days you’d rather be doing anything but the stationary bike.

This one’s for the days you keep measuring yourself against your peak performance.

This one’s for the days when your mental battles are even tougher than your physical battles.

This one’s for the days you’ve stumbled and you wonder if you’ll get back up.

1. No athlete is truly tested until they’ve stared an injury in the face and came out on the other side stronger than ever” - Anonymous

2. “Turn your setbacks into comebacks” - Anonymous

3. “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is” - Anonymous

4. “The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure” - Nike

5. “Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble” - Benjamin Franklin

6. “Never let a stumble in the road be the end of a journey.” - Anonymous

7. “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I will do what others can’t” - Anonymous

8. “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. I comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t” - Anonymous

9. “Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” -Michael Jordan

10. “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up” - Dean Karnazes

11. “Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over” - Anonymous

12. “The price of excellence is discipline. The cost of mediocrity is disappointment.” - Anonymous

13. “Success is built out of faith, an undying passion, and a relentless drive” - Stephen Curry

14. “Remember the guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else.” - Anonymous

15. “The hard days are the best because that’s where champions are made.” - Gabby Douglas

16. “Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is” - Vince Lombardi

17. “Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle.” - Sanya Richards Ross

18. “Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.” - Matt Biondi

19. “Goals should never be easy. They should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable.” - Michael Phelps

20. “Being challenged is inevitable. Being defeated is optional” - Anonymous

21. “My attitude is that if you push me towards a weakness, I will turn that weakness into a strength” - Michael Jordan

22. “When you feel like quitting, think about why you started” - Anonymous

23. “The ones who say ‘You can’t’ and ‘You won’t’ are probably the ones scared that you will” - Anonymous

24. “One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” - Anonymous

25. “To persevere is important to everybody. Don’t give up. Don’t Give in. There is always an answer to everything.” - Louis Zamperini

Cover Image Credit: World Rowing

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Billions Of Dollars Given To Rebuild Notre Dame. Why Was That So Easy?

Is the reconstruction of Notre Dame the most worthy philanthropy?


On April 15, 2019, Paris' gothic cathedral known as the Notre Dame was destroyed in a massive fire. Within 48 hours, the church received nearly 1 billion dollars in fundraising to help towards its rebuilding and renovation. The support and money raised for this historic building in such a short period of time was truly shocking. While I am very happy that people wanted to come together and rebuild the cathedral, I'm astonished that it took a catastrophe in order for people to open their wallets.

Meanwhile, other places in the world like Yemen and Haiti have been suffering from starvation for countless decades. These sort of places can hardly get more than a couple thousand dollars in support. Where is our support then? More importantly, where is our humanity?

French construction economists estimated that the rebuilding efforts of Notre Dame will cost between $330 million and $670 million. Notre Dame didn't even need a billion dollars to be rebuilt and already has way more money than it needs. France's 3 richest families alone contributed $700 million in fundraising. There are people out there in the world with more money than they know what to do with, and they decide to put it all towards a cathedral?

This conversation isn't meant to be directed towards the wealthy, but to everyday citizens as well. Millions of families with a range of incomes and salaries contributed to the Notre Dame. Our world would be a better place if people treated global problems like they did a building. Maybe we'd actually be able to solve world hunger, allow children all over the world to have an education, and lower climate change rates.

It was crazy to me how quickly all of that money was raised for Notre Dame. Yes, I do understand the importance of the history and architecture behind this cathedral, but at the same time, I also understand the global problems happening in the world today. The economic and environmental issues that are occurring across the earth require global cooperation among nations.

Many individuals may think that the current problems the globe is facing don't affect them. What societies forget to realize, is that people could end poverty, world hunger, and other global problems if every individual could give small donations. However, it saddens me to know that repairing a cathedral is more of a priority than putting our money towards these other causes. I wish that our world was more able to spread compassion amongst all of humankind and to focus on charitable and environmental needs rather than materialistic things.

The cathedral is a masterpiece and important symbol to not only France but to many societies as well. People had every right to shower the church with donations and support, but the rapid amount of donations that were given sparked a lot of backlash and controversy. I can only hope that the extra money raised for Notre Dame can be distributed amongst the globe to fund issues that actually require immediate assistance.

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