Fiddling With Our Egos While Notre-Dame Burns

I woke up this morning (Korean time) to the sad news that Notre-Dame de Paris was in flames, on the verge of being destroyed, with untold treasures lost forever, not to mention millions of French Catholics still in shock. Naturally, my first thought, upon absorbing the significance of this event, was “I have to write about this immediately!”

I started thinking, “What could I say that would be quick to write, but original enough to add something new?”

Then I thought, “If I take too long to work something out, I’ll miss the chance to talk about this story when it’s still completely fresh in everyone’s thoughts.” 

Then I thought, “Doesn’t this make me an ambulance chaser?”

Then I thought, “But isn’t there something genuinely important happening here, and do I not write about cultural matters of this sort on a regular basis?”

Then I thought, “Yes, and yes; but what does that have to do with my present concern with speed? Why so concerned with not missing the chance to leap into this topic now? — to strike while the Crucifix is hot, as it were.”

Then I thought, “Isn’t my urge to say something immediately really just an example of exactly the modern, cynical, self-aggrandizingly ghoulish mock-sentimentalism about ‘tragic news’ that I so frequently criticize right here in Limbo?” 

Then I thought, “Well, isn’t this precisely what I ought to say about this matter: Why do I know that every popular political and cultural writer out there is hammering feverishly on his keyboard at this moment, rushing to add his own self-promoting contribution to this ‘historic moment’?” 

Then I thought, “Why should anyone care what I think about a burning cathedral (or what David French thinks, or what Ben Shapiro thinks, or what any of the other ambulance-chasing egomaniacs think), while one of civilization’s great monuments is in the process of collapsing, for God’s sake!” 

So I turned off my computer and went on with my day, figuring that my little pragmatic ego massage, my words-of-wisdom clickbait, could wait, and should wait, at least until the fire was out. I immediately felt happier, and even a little proud of myself.

That’s today’s lesson on the meaning of spiritual freedom.

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