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Today I Met my Hero

June 23, 2014

I have long been an admirer (to put it lightly) of the indomitable Jane Goodall, who I consider to be one of the world's most inspirational living figures. She is incredible, and what she believes in and fights for is incredible.

 

For those of you that do not know of this amazing woman, let me introduce you. Known to some simply as the "chimp lady," Jane was an animal lover from the day she was born. She was encouraged in her curiosity of and love for all animals from a young age by her mother, and always dreamed of working with them as an adult. Despite the time she grew up in meaning the odds were stacked against her, through hard work, family support and sheer determination she boarded a boat at age 23 that was Africa-bound, and eventually made her way to a beautiful corner of the world - Gombe National Park in Tanzania - to study chimpanzee behaviour. Since then, as well as making colossal contributions to our understanding of these primates, Jane has become a respected scientist, fierce conservationist and an inspiring leader and speaker regarding environmental issues and what we can do to make our planet's future a more hopeful one.

To many, sadly, this is something that seems lame, over-the-top, a cliché. We became used to hearing about global warming, deforestation, over-farming, etc. etc. and at some point we just stopped caring. We heard the message but we didn't see anything in our immediate life that changed, and we didn't have to change our lifestyle, so we didn't.

 

Jane Goodall - the legend - travels the world tirelessly to speak to hundreds of thousands of people and implore us to listen to the message we too easily dismiss. She is 80 years old and travels 300 days out of the year. She has not been in one place for more than 3 weeks since 1986, when she attended a particularly shocking conference. She said she went in a scientist and came out an activist... She hasn't stopped since. Tonight I was privileged enough to witness one of her speeches, something I thought I would never get a chance to do. I am talking proper bucket list material.

 

Her message that she works truly tirelessly to convey is this:

 

Every single day we live, we impact this world. That is a truth.

 

Think about it - we cannot be on this planet without impacting it in some way, however small, for the better or the worse. It is completely in our hands as to what kind of impact we make. Despite sometimes feeling hopeless, there is hope for the planet's future, for its health. We make decisions every single day that construct this future, and we need to realise the truth of that. It's easy to order a takeaway coffee every single day and not think about where the materials have to come from for that cup we throw away after 30 minutes of use, or where it will end up. (Try this instead).

 

We are the most intelligent species on this planet, of that there is no doubt. But despite this intelligence, we have lost our wisdom, which is a different and dare I say it, entirely more useful thing to have. We let our heads do the thinking without involving our hearts. This is a mistake, and this is where we need to change. We can live, and live comfortably with the tiniest of extra effort that will have colossally beneficial consequence. As Jane mentioned in her speech tonight, Mahatma Gandhi said,

 

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not everyone's greed.

 

Jane has started an international program with young people called Roots and Shoots which involves

  1. Actively caring for people

  2. Actively caring for animals

  3. Actively caring for the environment

This doesn't mean volunteering at an old person's home or the an animal shelter if you don't want to, it means actively doing something every day in your life to help in these 3 areas. Think about the multitude of ways you can change what you do to benefit others and really, in the long term, benefit yourself too.

The way we are currently living is not sustainable - truth. Let's change it. I start now.

 

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