Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Why Notre Dame de Paris is important

Gothic cathedrals were the spaceships of their age.

They required polling of the resources of whole societies, both in terms of money, talent and time, at the scale exceeding our contemporary space programs. They mobilized the best scientists and the engineers of the time--forming a network spanning half a continent--to come up with innovative solutions, based on exchange of knowledge with foreign lands.

And--in a quite literal sense for their builders--their purpose was to help people get to Heaven.

Set in chiseled stone, they were also meant to last forever. Or at least until the Second Coming and the Judgement Day.

Their value has far surpassed their initial role as places of worship or edifices of then-established order, and therefore those who survived have been preserved as cultural heritage monuments, and testaments of ingenuity and effort, of sweat and tears of the people who built them.

#NotreDameDeParis is one of the foremost symbols of permanence and continuity of Civilization. Its importance was reinforced by its actual presence over the centuries, and through literature, film and other arts by creators world over, from Paris to Los Angeles, from Milan to Tokyo. Some of them had never touched its stone, or looked up at gargoyle drain spouts from bellow.

The tragic fire showed us how fragile our world is. Nothing lasts forever. This devastating event joins us in solidarity with our sisters and brothers from France, as it is they who--due to proximity--feel the burden the most.

Sharing our common shock and grief goes beyond the sense of being European, 'pro-Western' or 'citizen of the world' - it's simply a reiteration of the fact that it's our shared culture that makes us human.

Moreover, since 1945 Europe had shown that, when cultural values are shared, material damage can be repaired. When humanism and democracy rule, cultural heritage can be reconstructed, its cohesive role reinforced. The process was, is and will be used to heal wounds and build bridges that ensure ability to jointly face adversity. Especially at a time when the whole world can catch fire.