I too was saddened last month by the news about Notre Dame de Paris. I visited Our Lady of Paris many years ago. There is no doubt that she represents cultural identity — particularly the cultures of Gothic architecture and European Catholicism. I am not one who would criticize those who chose to donate to her re-building. Indeed I agree with an author who wrote an opinion stating that anyone should be free to donate to causes of their choice. What was more interesting about the piece was its advocacy that anyone donating to the re-building of Our Lady should take that donation from their "preserving cultural identity" budget.
For anyone who is serious about preserving cultural identity, there is no shortage of causes competing for their budget. Many such causes aim to preserve indigenous cultures. Last month it was the Ainu of Japan who were in the news following that country's final passing of a law recognizing them as indigenous people. Some of our ladies of Japan will benefit.
Last month it was decided that more of our ladies of Yemen should die. In such conflict zones it is well known that the rape of women and girls is used as a tactic. While the United Nations Security Council was able to pass a resolution last month aimed at addressing the problem, it was able to do so only after the same country responsible for the Yemeni deaths decision was able to remove provisions dealing with reproductive health — in case the rape victims might seek abortion. Perhaps it sees the Yemini deaths as being offset by the rape-induced births.
Our lady of Bangladesh, Nusrat Jahan Rafi, was sexually assaulted, but not in a conflict zone. She paid the price for reporting the assault last month when she was intentionally burned to death in revenge. During an election last month, some of our indigenous ladies of Indonesia were not represented because they still don't have access to a thousands-of-years-old technology, literacy. In negotiations with the Taliban last month, our ladies of Afghanistan were under-represented and may soon be forced backwards in the progress they have made over the last eighteen years. The same may soon be the case for our ladies of Spain. Our lady of Iran, boxer Sadaf Khadem, may be forced to become our lady of Paris. It remains to be seen whether she will ever return to her country and risk arrest for failing to compete in a boxing match last month wearing a hijab. Finally, last month, United Kingdom politicians listened to our lady of the planet, Greta Thunberg, as much as they listen to their own electorate.
Our ladies in this month's photo are not of Paris, but of far away in Rajasthan, India. I took the photo at a stone quarry where they were working. They were not building a cathedral, yet had photography been around 850 years ago a similar photo might have been taken in Paris of the beginnings of Our Lady. We can say the same, for example, of the great Maya structures — except photography would need to have been around a few hundred years sooner.
Our Lady of Paris would not have been built without 'cathedral thinking.' Perhaps that same thinking is required before we will care about our ladies as much as we care about Our Lady.If you enjoyed reading this month's opinion editorial, please consider supporting independent, advertising-free journalism by buying us a coffee to help us cover the cost of hosting our web site. Please click on the link or scan the QR code. Thanks!