• Jonathan Lakeland

Art is Fragile

This week’s fire at the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris was a tragedy. Thankfully, complete destruction of the building was averted, and there were no deaths. The Cathedral will be restored, thanks to the stunning generosity of some of the world’s wealthiest. Much has been said about the ready availability of that money, and how it speaks to the great wealth inequality around the world. And these observations are very true.

But I want to take a moment to share what the fire reminded me of, aside from wealth inequality.

The fire at the Cathedral Notre Dame reminded me of how great works of art do not stand the test of time without help. Every great work of art, even a mammoth cathedral that has stood in some form or another for centuries, is fragile and needs tender, loving care.

As a people we must ensure that we give the gift of art to future generations – that we take care of the art we inherit, and of the artists and art created in our own time. We do that by supporting it in whatever ways we can – experiencing it, creating it ourselves, supporting it financially, and/or sharing it with others. It’s easy to forget how quickly great works of art can be lost without this care.

I think about the thin, frail manuscripts upon which some of the greatest works of classical music have existed, and about the centuried legends of lost masterpieces. I wonder how many great works of art have been birthed and lost without the world coming to know them? Imagine if you never saw the Mona Lisa, or heard Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, or saw the Palatine Hills in Rome? Would you be the same person you are today without the art you have experienced?

Creating and experiencing art is one of the things that sets us apart from any other being on earth- perhaps any other being in the universe. That’s something we should be proud of. That’s something that should inspire us all to create something artistic, or at least to experience the artistic creations of others.

So listen to music, watch a movie, go see a play, go to a gallery, sight see, and revel in the fact that even in a world that can be corrupt and violent, the goodness of humanity can shine through in the things we create for each other.