DO CHURCHES MATTER MORE THAN THE PEOPLE INSIDE THEM
It is ironic to see a larger outpouring of grief for the near loss of a church spire when compared to the hundreds that perished inside one in Sri Lanka the same week.
Pledged donations from French billionaires and companies for the restoration of fire-ravaged cathedral approached 1 Billion euros in just a week after the fire, a reflection of the landmark’s resonance in the French psyche. But it has prompted questions from charities and commentators about why business donors have offered so much so quickly, including speculation of benefits from tax breaks.
People on social media, both in France and around the world, have expressed frustration that other disasters-the Syrian and Iraq refugee crisis, the Yemeni civil war and most recently the Sri Lankan carnage- have not received anything like the same degree of support.
So why does the world care more about a fire where no one died, than it does for the gruesome killing of hundreds of people in bomb blasts?
Google Trends show the lack of concern. The Notre Dame fire had up to 9 times more search interest than the bombings, within 24 hours of each event.
It’s worrying at some many levels from the inability to think beyond geographical proximity to the irrational power of race and the unintended consequences of colour and religion. The all too familiar adage of “Think Global Act Local” is ceding its place to “Think Local. Act Local“
Local is a good idea when it comes to farmers markets, local produce and sustaining entrepreneurial small businesses. Local is also good when it comes to drinking local wine , reducing our carbon foot print and playing our part in combating climate change but local isn’t the best thing when it comes to news ( I know Facebook thinks otherwise). The silver lining is that many parts don’t have enough local news (see chart for the US below) to report but that may change with rural migration in many other countries
The capacity to decide who can move, who can settle, where and under what conditions is increasingly becoming the core of political struggles and right wing nationalism and politics will make it harder for people to move even when they are perfectly willing to uproot themselves
Sadly, it is not a borderless world any more.
The world is getting local in ways that might divide us more than unite us.