I’m not a celebrity person.
I don’t keep up with the Kardashians. I am completely uninformed about the goings-on with the royal family. I’m not a big television watcher. But I have one exception: Dr. Jane Goodall.
A quote of hers has been my Facebook cover image for quite a long time. I pay attention to her work. I’ve even read some of her books and academic articles. And yes, I’m a little fangirly about it when I hear she’s on a late-night talk show that I normally don’t watch.
She’s kind of a non-celebrity celebrity. She’s been on the cover of Time magazine and in the New York Times magazine. During the pandemic, her grueling personal appearance schedule of 300 days a year pivoted to online, and teleconferencing into meetings and television talk shows became a platform for her message.
In a time when most people are feeling overwhelmed with environmental issues and perhaps seeing a bit of futility, Jane Goodall has written another book, The Book of Hope. With the backdrop of her career and research, Dr. Goodall provides something we all need—optimism and clarity on what we can do and the meaningfulness of our actions in the overall picture of climate change.
Her appearance on “The Tonight Show” talked about her book and a campaign called #TreesForJane where she encourages people worldwide to plant trees and support the protection of existing forests and reforestation efforts.
In an interview with the New York Times, she offered these words about the business community and their environmental impact:
“Just think logically. This planet has finite natural resources. And in some places, we’ve used them up faster than Mother Nature can replenish them. How can it make sense if we carry on in the way we are now, with business as usual, to have unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources, and a growing population?”
When I see Dr. Goodall in an interview or read something she’s written, she has this sense of urgency. She tells us that there are things we can all do, and here they are. Plant a tree; they are so ecologically useful. Be a mindful consumer; if we don’t buy things because of the way a business is run, the business will change if only for economic reasons.
The cumulative effect of these small choices matters. Her television appearances to inform the public matter. And I am grateful for her efforts to provide a glimmer of hope—that we can be the change that makes a difference.
These quotes from Dr. Jane Goodall give me hope:
“I do have hope. Nature is enormously resilient, humans are vastly intelligent, the energy and enthusiasm that can be kindled among young people seems without limit, and the human spirit is indomitable. But if we want life, we will have to stop depending on someone else to save the world. It is up to us—you and me, all of us. Myself, I have placed my faith in the children.”
“Only when our clever brain and our human heart work together in harmony can we achieve our true potential.”
“There is a powerful force unleashed when young people resolve to make a change.”
“So, let us move forward with faith in ourselves, in our intelligence, in our indomitable spirit. Let us develop respect for all living things. Let us try to replace violence and intolerance with understanding and compassion and love.”