Notre Dame Effort is Not the Only Worthy Cause

While+the+Notre+Dame+Cathedral+is+a+vital+part+of+history%2C+wealthy+people+should+reconsider+what+pushes+them+to+charity.+%28Courtesy+of+Flickr%29
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Notre Dame Effort is Not the Only Worthy Cause

While the Notre Dame Cathedral is a vital part of history, wealthy people should reconsider what pushes them to charity. (Courtesy of Flickr)

While the Notre Dame Cathedral is a vital part of history, wealthy people should reconsider what pushes them to charity. (Courtesy of Flickr)

While the Notre Dame Cathedral is a vital part of history, wealthy people should reconsider what pushes them to charity. (Courtesy of Flickr)

While the Notre Dame Cathedral is a vital part of history, wealthy people should reconsider what pushes them to charity. (Courtesy of Flickr)

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By Lauren Hallissey

On April 15, a fire broke out at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. The fire caused the collapse of the spire as well as parts of the roof.

Many people were devastated by the damage that was done to the 850-year-old building. As a result, over $1 billion has been raised towards the reconstruction of the cathedral.

While I think it is heartwarming that people were able to raise so much money in such a short period of time, I also find the donations concerning.

I believe that people should be able to donate their money as they please. I acknowledge that some people are able to connect with or relate to some causes more than other issues that occur in the world.

However, the realization that there are people in the world who have millions of dollars ready to donate within days of a tragedy at a cathedral is startling.

I do not mean to take away from the significance or heartbreak of this particular event. Notre Dame Cathedral has beautiful French Gothic architecture and stained glass windows and thus the place of prayer is also a piece of artwork in many people’s eyes. People from all over the world come to visit the structure for its religious, cultural and historical significance.

While the event was tragic, and I am glad people care about the cathedral enough to donate such significant amounts of money, such donations call people’s values into question.

There are numerous other tragic events occurring throughout the world that are affecting people’s lives. However, these tragedies are not receiving billion dollar donations within days, and some events are not even receiving a significant amount of media coverage.

For example, one particular emergency that would benefit from over a billion dollars worth of donations is the Flint water crisis. Flint, Mich. has not had clean water since 2014. Five years have passed and there are still places in Flint that do not have usable water. The citizens of Flint have had to use bottled or filtered water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing for years.

If a portion of the money that was donated to Notre Dame were directed towards Flint, then the city could have clean water.

Donations would not only help the city pay to fix the quality of their water, but the media would also likely cover the donations. Thus, more people would be aware of the ongoing crisis.

It is confusing and frustrating that people were able to donate over a billion dollars to a cathedral that was damaged in a fire within a few days when this was not the case for the water crisis in Flint. I wish people would think more deeply about the people who are facing crises in the world before donating millions of dollars to a single cause.

Another pressing issue that could benefit from large donations is climate change. Donations would be useful in helping countries transition to renewable energy sources.

Money could also be used towards carbon sequestration to reduce carbon in the environment. Additionally, money would be useful for climate research and raising awareness of this research.

I find it surprising that we have not seen donations of this magnitude when it comes to climate change. The very planet we live in is rapidly growing inhospitable due to our inability to take action.

Many steps that countries need to take require money. This is an issue that affects every single person in the world, as we are already seeing the effects of climate change.

Many other crises in the world, including the Flint water crisis, do not have the same resources as that of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Even worse, they do not have enough people who care about the problems to create change.

There are numerous causes that could benefit from donations, especially over a billion dollars worth of donations, that are constantly ignored.

My hope is that there will be leftover money from the reconstruction which will go towards one or a few noteworthy causes. In particular, it will be beneficial to donate a portion, if not all, of the leftover money to help fight poverty in France.

If this ends up being the case, the donors should be happy that their money is going to a good cause to help people in a country that they clearly love.

 

Lauren Hallissey, FCRH ’19, is a communications and culture major from Queens, New York.