Notre Dame, the beautiful and enchanting 13th-century cathedral, caught fire last week in France. It was a sad sight to see such a historic church burning down in a time where it is seemingly safe from horrors like a fire. Personally, I’ve admired the church, from its stain glass windows to its bell towers. The sight is captivating.
Disney’s 1996 “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” inspired by Victor Hugo’s 1831 French Gothic “Notre Dame de Paris,” was one of the first encounters I had with the cathedral. Later, I read about the late Middle-Ages when the church was built and the various historic periods the church went through, especially well-known wars like the French Revolution or World War II, it’s an absolute wonder.
Despite the heartbreak that came with the burning of Notre Dame, other breaking news from the past week has been plaguing my mind.
In the past few weeks, there were three historic black churches that were intentionally burned down, there was the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that burned (the same time as Notre Dame) and as of recent, there were IS suicide bombers in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 359 (as of now) and injuring over 500 people.
There was also a journalist, Lyra McKee, who was killed in the crossfire of a riot in Northern Ireland. It hit close to home as more journalists are dying for the work they do, and though it’s a field I wholeheartedly love, at what cost is life at stake? I question myself when something happens to journalists - it’s not great to see.
It’s been a hard few weeks, especially seeing some of the remnants of history vanishing, people dying because of their faith or the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
There is a lot of horrific occurences in the world that happen every day and it’s hard because the media can’t cover each bit of news it gets, which leaves much of us in the dark about what’s going on around the globe. The only platform we may be able to rely on for global, first-hand encounters is Twitter with the emergence of citizen journalism, but not all the sources of a photo or video are credible, or from a person unfamiliar to journalism overall. This leaves us, as the public, in a poor position to know what is occurring in the global community.
How can we focus on the local and national news, alongside giving attention to the international stage? I’m not entirely sure how to answer the question, but here’s what I advise.
When we hear news, we cannot simply look at our own communities and one side of the world, and not just the western side either. We have to look at both sides and what is happening in other areas of the world, even if it doesn’t seem relevant to you. We can’t just focus on one area, but bring attention to the other areas of the world when they face unfortunate circumstances like natural disasters, war and other tragedies.
It is not easy to think and process what is happening in the world, but we can’t ignore it, even if people’s hearts are heavy from the news.
I mean, we can ignore the realities of the world all we want, but in the end, time still ticks on and the world will continue to turn. Sometimes though, ignoring the world can result in bitter consequences when there is no action.
Ultimately, it is up to each of us bring attention to the atrocities in the world.
Not solely when Notre Dame is burning, but when the third holy sight of the Islamic faith, Al-Aqsa Mosque, is burning too. Not solely when animals are being displaced, but indigenous peoples and their communities — which have been on North American soil for centuries — are being displaced too.
There’s a variety of scenarios to speak of, but the significant takeaway is to be aware and bring attention to what’s happening in the world.
If global experiences don’t personally affect you, remember that it affects others and it can cause a chain reaction. It may not affect you one moment but it can affect you in the next.