By Emma Jackson
On Monday, the world watched as the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned. The media was flooded with video and imagery of the Cathedral aflame, and people around the world paid respects to the tragic loss of the 850-year-old representation of history and tradition. The loss of the iconic spire, the cathedral’s sacred spaces, and extensive damage to the captivating French Gothic architecture harnessed the attention of people, religious and non-religious, around the world.
The reactions to this event and the resulting unity around saving and restoring the cathedral inspire us to question, what is considered tragic and why? And when is tragedy paid attention to or acted upon?
Where’s the breaking news story about the continued demolition of our forests? Where is the national and international attention around the glaciers retreating and disappearing so quickly, threatening the survival of many Arctic species and impacting life for all species on Earth? We have seen the pollution and misuse of our oceans and the desecration of coral reefs, and thus, the thousands of marine species experiencing complete devastation of their habitat. These environmental changes are occurring at alarming rates, with absolutely unprecedented speed, that they are crises impacting the survival of everything we know and all of the building blocks of our societies on Earth. For the most part, we do not see supporters springing into action around the environmental tragedies that are continuing around us every single day.
The mainstream media does not focus on the fact that our forests are constantly being threatened and that the sacredness of the land, the Earth that supports all of our buildings and sacred places, has been lost. Our society has become detached from nature in our lifestyles, the bombardment of media and technology that surrounds us, and our priorities when it comes to preservation, tradition, and restoration of the Earth. It is our responsibility as ecological stewards to continue bringing attention to the tragedies occurring in our environment and to generate unity and action around these events. As John Muir said, “in wildness lies the hope of the world.”