I almost had tea with Jane Goodall.
She was scheduled to stay at my hotel during a speaking engagement at the local university. As a manager, I was responsible for making sure everything was perfect for her stay. I decided “perfect” meant me imposing on her during her tea time because I have been a huge fan of hers forever!
I was beyond excited as I waited for that day to arrive. Sadly, it never did. The pandemic lockdowns came only a few days before her arrival, and she had to cancel her plans.
I have followed her work with the chimpanzees from a young age, and I deeply admire her commitment to the preservation of all life.
In these challenging times, I have found myself gravitating again to her works for inspiration and hope.
Her recent book, The Book of Hope, written in collaboration with Douglas Abrams and Gail Hudson, literally says on the cover “A survival guide for trying times.”
In the book, she explains that although she is aware of the critical need to act quickly on the multitude of life-threatening crises facing our world, she finds four main reasons for hope: the amazing human intellect, the resilience of nature, the power of youth, and the indomitable human spirit.
Dr. Goodall does an excellent job of breaking these four reasons for hope down into manageable tasks for the human race and at the same time urging us to act now before it is too late.
1. The amazing human intellect. “We need a new universal moral code. Every single major religion gives lip service to the golden rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So, it’s easy—that’s our universal moral code.”
2. The resilience of nature. “It helps if we believe that in the end, even though we probably won’t be around, nature will deal with the destruction we have caused.”
3. The power of young people. “It’s particularly exciting to see how children are influencing their parents and grandparents. So many parents tell me that they never thought about their purchases until their child started explaining what they were learning about the environment.”
4. The indomitable human spirit. “I was beginning to understand what people are capable of and how an indomitable determination can motivate and inspire a nation and turn what seems an inevitable defeat into victory, that with courage and determination the impossible becomes possible.”
At the end of the book, Jane tells a story about a youth event ending with the crowd standing and shouting “together we can!” Dr. Goodall took the mic and said, “Yes, absolutely we can, but will we?” The startled group stood in silence for a moment and then replied in unison, “Together we can! Together we will!”
Missing tea with Jane Goodall was one of my biggest disappointments, but spending time with her through the wonderful stories in The Book of Hope is definitely the next best thing!
As I close The Book of Hope, I start concocting ways to inspire my family to stop purchasing single use plastic items and to eat less meat. I chuckle to myself and remember, everyone has to start somewhere.
It’s the small efforts that make a big difference, right?