‘Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.’
– Jane Goodall
On Tuesday, I finally got to listen to one of my heroes, Jane Goodall, speak to all of us about why there is reason for hope. Now I was told by a dear friend beforehand that the audience would be sprinkled with young women who all ‘wanted to be like Jane when they were young‘, so to that I replied I’d be in good company! Indeed, what she discussed was not new… but there is something very special about hearing words that long ago inspired a younger incarnation of myself spoken by the very person who composed them. And while I cannot quite find the adequate term to describe her presence, she has a unique and rare quality that seems entirely awake. Alive. And you feel energy in the room when she speaks. It’s as if you know Jane. What struck me immediately from her first book so many years ago was recognizing my own passion in her journey.
But while it’s easy to point to her courage, the obstacles she overcame, and her compassion, what I most love about this remarkable person is that while she has a real understanding of the challenges we face in our world, she also leaves listeners, readers, everyone – with a tremendous sense of hope for our future. Why? Many reasons… the growing number of young people who care… folks around the world working to improve the state of things amid adversity… the resilience of nature…and on and on…
Too often we are not hearing these messages of hope. But here’s the thing. The real big picture. The truth is that a better society and healthier world are not impossible, but rather achievable! And I’m not your standard idealist or ‘flowers and rainbows’ advocate – I’m a scientist who understands there is a complex network of biological, socioeconomic, and political interactions at play. I also recognize there are yet many opportunities to make things right. Sure we have monumental problems on this little green and blue place, but we can work across levels of governance, cultures, jurisdictions at the local, federal, and international levels to achieve a brighter future. For us and for our children.
It is refreshing that after all these years, Jane Goodall continues to inspire me. We humans are in the adolescence of a planet trying to figure out how to mature and choose our path. It’s a confusing time. We’re finding ourselves.
The good news is, we can rise to the challenge. And I fully expect, WE WILL.