I've been seeing a lot of shared posts in light of the tragic fire at Notre Dame, with the premise of, "People care so much about an old, man-made building, but don't mourn the loss of our natural planet". To that, I say this:
I understand the idea behind posts like this, and I do wish that there was more public outcry and financial support when it comes to our natural planet. Obviously as someone who works in conservation and environmental education, I too feel a profound sense of grief over the loss of species and our wild places. Believe me, I have to crawl up out of that doom and gloom mentality on a daily basis.
But pitting one person's empathetic response against another’s, spreading a message of "but what about this?!" or "why can't you care about this over that?!" does nothing but alienate people and turn them away from your cause.
We are complex creatures. We are capable of understanding the beautiful, crucial web of a natural forest ecosystem, while also appreciating the art and intricacies and history of 13th century stained glass. You can love, and mourn, both.
Instead of lamenting about the perceived lack of care over your cause and demonizing people's response to another, look for ways to ACTIVELY bring your issue to light and share your passion in a positive way. This is what I and so many others strive to do every day in teaching students, their families, and the public about the wonders of our natural world.
Seeing so many people pledge towards the rebuilding and rebirth of this historical, cultural monument only proves how much creating a lasting connection with something, whether man-made or natural, can lead to empathy and action.
Because in the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught. ❤
(Gently adapted from Laura’s original Facebook post)