Tragedy at Notre Dame

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I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to visit Notre Dame during a trip to Europe in 2011. Reading about the destruction of the fire on April 15th brings back vivid memories and stirs a deep sadness that my sons and countless others will no longer be able to look on that beautiful building as it was and connect directly with that history. At the same time I have a conflicted feeling about 600 million pounds (over $780,000,000) being committed overnight to ensure the reconstruction.

Humans need landmarks, icons, and other links to their history like Notre Dame; we rely on them for so much context and wonderful glimpses into the experiences of those that came before us. But what is it about a tragedy like this that elicits such an emotional response which is immediately and easily turned into the capital to do everything possible to solve the problem?

The problem we face is more abstract than the fire of a beloved and historical landmark…until you sit down and build relationships with people suffering in the street. A true solution to the homelessness problem is far more complicated than committing the time, money, and care to reconstruct a building. It is also far closer to our hearts. Failure to succeed is such a terrible potential outcome that even taking a direct look at the problem is terrifying and overwhelming.

I have spent the last few years serving and connecting with people living in the streets. The Notre Dame tragedy demonstrates that there are more than enough resources to create some true solutions to homelessness. We do not need to be afraid to try or overwhelmed by the problem so long as we are working to make progress. I believe we can devote the same passion and drive to respond to the homeless crisis as was created by the fire at Notre Dame. A single life, un-sheltered and ignored in the gutter, is more valuable than any structure.

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