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Should We Sympathize with a Parisian Cathedral?

Should We Sympathize with a Parisian Cathedral?

Sunday, 21 April, 2019 - 09:30
Before extinguishing the blaze at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, social media flared up with spite and apathy shaming any who showed grief over the harm that befell the universal edifice.

Sympathizers were blasted as traitors.

For Arabs and Muslims, worldwide mixed feelings dominated the scene and caused confusion. Flashbacks of cities, mosques and churches grazed to the ground reminded many to keep sympathy exclusive to personal grievances.

Peoples and societies facing untold suffrage in Arab and Muslim homelands were seen as better victims and more deserving of empathy. Apart from contemporary accounts, France’s colonial history and its churches, especially Notre-Dame, having close ties to the crusades was also used to justify the lack of compassion.

But on the other side, tributes and touristic clichéd catchphrases championed the cathedral’s centrality to Parisian civilization and culture. It was dubbed a worldwide architectural jewel, home to some of the world’s most valuable religious relics, and the heart of the longtime renowned gothic novel by Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame…

Foremost, empathy is understood differently by many. Some, for example, believe in it having primitive limitations.

Overspending sentiments on a son could mean little emotion is left to be shown to the daughter; the same is true with friends, places and tragedies. In light of this imbalance, new-age moral mantras endorse the rule “one man, one principle.”

This is analogous to the need for either a national, ethnic or religious guide for emotions—the code has to be all binding, working both in broad daylight and nighttime.

But societal sentiments aren’t identical naturally, and their artificial standardizing tends to give rise to a nation modeled after North Korea. Instead, the adopted alternative is gauging and perceiving sympathy subjectively and according to personal experience. This is most evident when soldiers at war against each other bond after being forced to join forces for survival.

But when throwing political ideologies into the equation, the individual becomes prone to rigorous politicization and disregard of the immaterial. Individuals become key to grinding specific political axes.

Politics reduces an individual to a "position" devoid of empathy for what ails humanity. It is chiefly fueled by fanaticism, which is mistakenly and often misperceived as “objective,” “right,” “anti-colonialist” and “anti-Zionist.” All of which turn a cold shoulder to the other and their suffering.

Political ideology provides the space and conditions needed to assimilate padlocked principles and to break up humans. One-sided rhetoric such as “only interests exist,” “it is all about a power struggle” and “the West’s orientalists are out for us,” thrives under such circumstances.

Wolves and hate-filled beings are born and they see France through the lens of the crusades only, similar to those who equate Syria to the Assad family, or Iraq to Saddam.

Nonetheless, the resentment is understandable when measured against the backlog of overlooked atrocities and tragedies ravaging other peoples. The cathedral’s burning could be seen as minor when compared to victims left behind by war carnage and injustices.

But it goes without saying that the universality of the site must be taken into consideration. And that patriotism, despite its bourgeoisie-esque character, is felt differently in each country.

The French’s cherished sensibilities towards their history and culture resulted in generous and swift donations being made to rebuild the Notre-Dame cathedral.

Not to mention that the West’s monopoly over communications networks all over the world.

All of this has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, but neither should it be linked to sympathy.

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