Notre Dame surpasses other global crises in wealth and recognition

Helena Savage

By Helena Savage

In just 24 hours, 600 million euros were pledged to reconstruct the Notre Dame Cathedral. In five years, Flint, Michigan citizens are still forced to drink bottled water due to unresolved water pollution and risks of water-borne illnesses.

On April 15, the world watched in horror as the 850-year old Notre Cathedral’s historic spire fell into the blazing flames. After the smoke began to clear and the church hymns quieted along the streets, millions of euros poured into France for the reconstruction of the Cathedral. The outcry of support in under 24 hours shocked the world since there are copious concerns plaguing the world, such as famine and terrorism that do not receive even a fraction of recognition as the Notre Dame.

Luxury goods magnate Francois-Henri Pinault said he would contribute $112 million, followed by his rival Bernard Arnault, who announced a donation twice his competitor’s amount,” according to The Washington Post. Pinault, the husband of American icon Salma Hayek, is noted as one of France’s richest men who has failed to donate mass amounts of money to the well-being of France in the past.

The lack of involvement of wealthy French icons, including Pinault and Arnault, is groundbreaking since France is home to 30,000 homeless citizens, and over 40 percent of all citizens of Paris are also below the citywide poverty line, according to The Washington Post.

I am not opposed to the reconstruction of the Cathedral, and I do believe that it is a sacred and holy place of worship, similar to the Vatican for many French citizens. However, this tragedy drew more global attention than any U.S. church fire that was caused deliberately, and the donation goal has almost been met in under two weeks.

The Notre Dame Church fire also received recognition from President Trump, who failed to acknowledge the black Baptist churches that caught on fire “on March 26, April 2, and April 4,” according to NBC. The cause of these fires was declared arson and as a hate crime.

The most unsettling fact of this story is that Trump did not offer nearly as much help or assistance to the citizens of his own country; however, he was eager to share a tweet regarding the fire in Notre Dame.

Although the most troubling reflection of the abyss our society has plunged into is the reaction towards the Flint, Michigan water crisis in comparison to the 600 million euros raised for Notre Dame in only 24 hours.

As previously mentioned, April 2 marked the 5th year anniversary of the commencement of the Flint water crisis, and the city still does not have access to clean water. However, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the Notre Dame Cathedral is set to be rebuilt within five years as stated by The Independent.

This five-year timeline is all based around the quick reaction time of these French billionaires. I think that it is fascinating how loyal these individuals are to the restoration of the Cathedral. An interesting part of this story is that none of these wealthy icons has pledged as much support to the poverty of Paris, or the resource deficient counterparts of our society.

In the end, this tragedy has opened the eyes of where our world stands as a united society. According to NBC San Diego, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch would take between $122 million and $489 million to complete the proposed boat system. The restoration of Notre Dame will cost between $1.13 billion and $2.3 billion, and $1 billion has already been raised. Our pollution and plastic-strangled oceans are just not at the top of the list for world enormities, and even if the Earth is dead in 30 years we will still have the Notre Dame in five years.

Overall, I truly hope that this beautiful legacy of architecture is rebuilt and thrives for many more years. However, the wealthy beholders of billions need to recognize that now society is aware of their striking wealth if another world catastrophe strikes.