To be honest, I had a different post planned for today. But I was consumed by the news about the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral and found it hard to concentrate on much else. Then I read something about Notre Dame that seemed like a good analogy for what we’re dealing with here in America and wanted to share it.
It appears that the firefighters in Paris have a protocol for Notre Dame if there is a calamity. This is what they save, and in this order: the people, the art, the altar, the furniture, THEN the structure. This protocol was created after Notre Dame was sacked during the French Revolution. In 1789.
Imagine that. Generation after generation after generation of firefighters have been taught what to do in the event that disaster befalls Notre Dame.
On top of that, there is an orchard in Versailles full of oak trees. The oak trees that were used to build the roof of Notre Dame that yesterday burned to oblivion. But once again, Paris is ready. The oaks have been planted and grown there, generation after generation, in the event that they were needed to rebuild Notre Dame.
You may be wondering how any of this makes me think of the political situation we are in today.
Well, first of all, when there is an immediate calamity, we need a protocol. What to tackle first, second, and third. For me, the immediate calamity is that Trump got elected. Honestly, I think we’ve done an amazing job protesting, pushing back on bad policies, and getting a ton of great politicians elected in 2018. I am thinking about what needs to be prioritized over the next 19 months.
Secondly, we need to play the long game. What should we be doing now to be ready, or at least more ready, for when the next calamity comes? I think strengthening our democracy for the long haul is crucial. These last couple of years has shown us where our democracy is the weakest, and we need to be better prepared. What is our equivalent of the Versailles oaks?
To sum up, Parisians value Notre Dame and knowing that history is dotted with calamities, they had a plan and were ready when one hit. We value our democracy, and even though it isn’t nearly as old as the great cathedral, we need to get our plans in order. Pass them from generation to generation. Protect and value the democracy, but be ready when calamity hits.