Notre Dame, a monumental symbol of both Western civilization and the Catholic Church, is indeed a veritable cause for donation and reestablishment. But, when the world is currently in the midst of multiple, solvable epidemics, it is difficult for me to justify the mass funding of this building when there are actual humans in need of aide and justice. Puerto Rico, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the black churches in Louisiana also impacted by fires (arson) — the list is longer than one would care to imagine. If I had the fiscal means to support a single present-day cause, you better believe every penny would go to Flint, Mich. The city estimated it would take roughly $55 million dollars to reestablish clean water to the people of Flint. What to do with the remaining $45 million, you may ask? Restoration. The forgotten city of Flint cannot be anywhere near refurbished without its people being provided proper communal and personal rehabilitation. The remainder of that illustrious billion would go to providing medical aide to those impacted by the staggering amounts of heavy metals in the water. Also, the community itself requires a large amount of funding to make it livable again, which is a basic human right, as well as mass amounts of fortifications so its citizens can begin to feel only the beginning of the reparations they deserve.
In the wake of the disaster in Paris, there has been a general outcry from many justifiably outraged or confused advocates of other, more life-threatening causes. The ability of Notre Dame to gather so much money so quickly while there are countless other issues out in the world that go unreported is, to put it lightly, controversial. But this is not an expression of the disinterest of people for the concerns of others, or the idea that the Notre Dame is somehow more important than the lives of thousands. Instead, the Notre Dame fire was urgent, widely reported and widely felt, while the outreach of many non-profits dedicated to curing diseases, raising people out of poverty and solving our societal problems leave much to be desired. If I were a billionaire, I would emphasize making these problems more visible to the average American, to make it impossible to look away. The Notre Dame fire and the many responses to the hurricanes that batter North America and the Caribbean is a testament to the dedication Americans have to solving problems if they are made real to them.
What would I do with my money if I were a billionaire? Well, to start, I would focus on fixing the problems in my own country before I send millions of dollars to another. There are people in our country who do not have clean water, people who are living in poverty and kids who are going to bed hungry. It may be selfish to say I would help my own country before another, but that is the reality. As a billionaire, how could I just stand by and watch my own people struggle and not want to help them?
If I were a billionaire, I would still donate to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Whether anyone likes it or not, it is a culturally and historically significant monument that is worth preserving. I had the chance to see it in 2016, and I would feel sorry for anyone who wanted to see it, whether it be for tourist or religious purposes, and lose the opportunity. Obviously I would also donate to people in need, but most billionaires already do that. People only have a problem when they hear how much was raised to rebuild Notre Dame.
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