Notre Dame de Paris
The famous cathedral Notre Dame de Paris in Paris, France.

Let me open with compassion for the tremendous grief so may people are experiencing right now — that’s a feeling I would wish upon no one. And I appreciate that it’s also a symbol of a nation’s grand past, a marvel of survival through the ages and through world wars, as well as a community effort proudly spanning the centuries.

But… Once we get past the notion that people are sad about losing a pretty building and a cultural icon, I can’t help also wondering how many other people see it as an edifice honoring oppression.

Am I the only one who sees it similarly to the Confederate Monuments in the South of the US, which are now finally recognized to be celebrations of slavery?

Within those very walls, how many women were told they cannot divorce violent husbands, or that they must put the life of an embryo above their own? How many priests were told to repress their biological needs, and how many young boys were abused by them?

One in seven people are homosexual worldwide. How many of them were told to devalue themselves, or that they are not welcome in that building? How many lost their families because of sermons given within its walls?

How many people were told that their own human nature is so wicked it actually caused someone else to be killed (died for your sins)? Or that they’re not entitled to earn their peace (without permission or “absolution” from a priest)?

I am in shock how many of my “#SmashPatriarchy” friends are mourning the loss of this building, because “I visited it once and it was so amazing.” You’re fawning over an 850-year monument to the thing you think you’re fighting. Guess you don’t really want it #smashed — because this building is an epicenter of it.

Was it beautiful? I suppose. Great artists were hired. Ceilings much larger than human-scale make us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. Its awesome size was designed to inspire fear and resignation to its power. But remember, the building itself was funded by people who were told they would suffer terrible punishment if they didn’t help to pay for it.

It’s heartwarming that some generous billionaires instantly offered $350M to help a city to feel mended… and of course it’s their absolute right to spend their money as they choose.

I don’t have $1B, so I know I should just shut up now — but if it were my donation, it would have gone to making a wonderful school or garden or concert hall, or something else that truly benefits everyone.

I especially think it’s a shame how quickly people support an organization so mind-bendingly corrupt that it still can’t bring itself to take full responsibility and punitive action for covering up the rape of thousands of children.