This sort of thing doesn’t seem to happen often. A lot of people I know are talking about how tragic the fire is and how life shouldn’t be this way, but I think it’s worth looking at things in its opposite.
It’s much easier to remember history by its tragedies rather than the miracles (you can point to my own blog as an example of this: I never once mentioned Katie Bouman’s team that created the black hole picture!), but by the look of things, the world used to be much worse. Sure, the world could stand to be a lot better, but let’s look at things in a positive light today. 100 years ago we were just getting out of one of the worst wars humanity had ever known, and was just a few steps away from entering one that would rival it.
Not too long ago, monuments and landmarks were being destroyed left and right, not to mention the millions of lives that were suddenly lost.
When a single building being on fire is international news, as important as that building may be, we have reason to be thankful for the relative peacefulness our modern day has provided us.
Beyond this, death (as the case may be), is a natural part of life. All things must end, and if the Notre Dame Cathedral is left in a state where it can’t be restored (which would honestly surprise me), then that doesn’t diminish the fact that there is still an endless supply of art, history, and culture in Paris alone.
People have short memories, and I think it’s in events like this that remind us of the pieces of culture that we still have, right next door. You never know if it’s going to be there tomorrow, because something as crazy could happen there, too.
Is it tragic? Yes, of course. But as far as I know nobody was injured, and with today’s technology the building could probably be rebuilt better than it was yesterday in less than a decade.
It astounds me a bit that some people seem to view events like this exactly the same way as terrorist attacks. You see the same things being spouted off: “Our hearts are breaking today in light of recent events that took place this morning/afternoon/evening. Tragedies like this…” and so on. I think treating the destruction of a monument the same way as the deaths of hundreds of people in the same way is incredibly insulting, frankly. And yet, which will history remember more clearly? Hard to say, though it does seem that this sort of freak accident is far more rare than terrorist attacks, unfortunately.
I think days like today are best used reflecting on the past, looking forward to the future, and pressing onward to right wrongs (intentional or not) without taking more time than we need to mourn over what was lost.
One thing I feel modern society has gotten really bad at is learning from mistakes and correcting them. Let the cathedral’s fire (and the subsequent blow against European past and culture) be your excuse to go to your local museums or exhibits. Go explore culture you otherwise would not have! Life goes on.