Guest post by Estella Young, Lay Dominican, Singapore.
I’m hearing complaints about the one billion Euros raised to restore the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, because “the money should be spent on the poor!”
That’s pretty ignorant of history and of economics. The great cathedrals of the Middle Ages didn’t build themselves. In fact, they were a great redistributor of income. The royals and aristocrats poured their wealth into these prestige projects, providing a living wage for thousands of architects, craftsmen and artists to hone their skills and produce beauty that endured through the ages.
Those who say the one billion Euros should be given to the poor seem to think that the restoration consists of dumping Euro notes into a pit on the Cathedral grounds.
Where does it go? It’s gonna pay a living wage to thousands of architects, craftsmen and artists — same as it always has. In fact, it’s gonna be a shot in the arm for those striving to preserve traditional European crafts. Just as the “little hands” of haute couture preserve the intricate embroidery techniques perfected over centuries.
We can (and should) feed those who are starving. And we should also welcome initiatives like the Cathedral restoration that will boost the French economy by providing jobs for those who need them.
You can feed a man for a day. And you can create honest work that will let that man feed himself, raise a family, and have his descendants coming to the Cathedral to say, “Our great-granddaddy painted that ceiling.”