I have witnessed, over the seven-odd decades I have been reading and watching newscasts, news reports and radio broadcasts, many times when grief should reign supreme. I was thirteen years old when I read the historical work entitled ‘Scourge of the Swastika’, by Lord Russell of Liverpool. As a compendium of doom, of hatred, of a singular listing of Man’s inhumanity to his fellow Man, it has few equals. I was born during World War 2, I just about remember my father visiting us at home in the indoor bomb shelter where I, along with my mother and my two brothers slept every night of those long war years, but it was only after reading of the actions, philosophies and practices of one Nazi Nation, over those few years of that illusory ‘1,000 Years Reich’; did I actually understand why we went to war, why my father served in the British Army, why my uncle died on the fields of Normandy, alongside many thousands of his fellow Servicemen. Those six-odd years, along with the terrible years before war was actually declared, epitomise, for me, the reasons for Grief. The remaining Jewish remnants of a once vital sector of European civilisation had more than enough reason for their grief; as their fellow Jews were slaughtered for the mere reason that they were Jews!
We all experience grief, for happenings both deeply personal and for those who have lost loved ones in disasters large and small. Grief is a truly human emotion, as we feel a hurt and a loss inside our minds and hearts. My sister died when just sixteen years old. She contracted leukaemia, went from the body of a vital, healthy teenager to a ghost with eyes, in the space of months. Her death shattered my father, and my mother was, truly, never the same again. That was grief, so raw, so immediate, so very understandable. My wider family has suffered similar losses, with immediate family watching as illness or disease eats away at a loved one’s very essence; and have to face the consequences. We are no different to millions more.
As the philosopher stated “Man is born to live, to suffer, and to die, and what befalls him is a tragic lot. There is no denying this in the final end. But we must deny it all along the way.”
As I stated, grief is a human emotion, about other human beings, some close, many more distant, but still, the very instance of one’s passing causes one or many to grieve, and then to heal, and to move on.
So why are so many talking, writing or commenting about their grief over the devastating fire which has consumed the roof and interior of a Catholic Cathedral in Paris?
In links such as this, or this, or this, or even this: they are writing and talking about a Building. A historic building? Yes, but still built of stone, and timber, and glass and iron. It has no beating heart; it does not possess a soul, or a mind, or indeed a conscience: so why indeed this outpouring of an emotion which should be reserved for humanity?