Jane Goodall’s hopeful survival guide for humans

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In a time when the bad news – the pandemic, climate change, racial injustice – seems overwhelming, it may be surprising to hear an optimist. Jane Goodall is perhaps best known for her work studying chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park, but her efforts to promote conservation through the Jane Goodall Institute have also focused on people, primarily through programs to fight poverty and educate young people.

His latest contribution to helping humans avoid self-destruction is “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times”. In his book, co-authored with Douglas Abrams, Dr. Goodall describes the four things that give him hope: the human intellect, the resilience of nature, the power of young people, and the ‘indomitable’ human spirit. But I didn’t spoil the book for you. The reason to keep reading (or listening to Dr Goodall recount part of his audiobook, which I recommend) is because Dr Goodall is sharing stories from her own life experiences and the people she has met for defend hope.

Recently, I had the chance to speak with Dr Goodall about why she remains optimistic and what the rest of us can do to start having hope as well. Here is part of our conversation.

TPP: Why did you decide to write a book on hope?

JG: You know, it’s really dark with climate change, the loss of biodiversity, the pandemic, the autocratic regimes taking over in many parts of the world. And a lot of people are losing hope. But if everyone loses hope, we got it because, you know, without hope we give up and get listless and don’t do anything.

But the bottom line is that my definition of hope isn’t just sitting around and saying, “Oh, I’m sure things will work out. It’s like a very dark tunnel full of obstacles, but right at the end there is this little light shining. And to get to that little light, you’re just going to have to fight to get there. It wouldn’t happen if you didn’t make the effort.

TPP: With so much evil going on in the world, how can people keep hope?

JG: We are always told: “Think globally, but act locally”. But if you think globally, you are somehow filled with unhappiness and sadness. You don’t have the energy to act. But think about where you are. Is there something that interests you? Yes. I care about the litter on the streets. OK, get together with your friends and start cleaning the litter box and you will find that other people, after the litter box is cleaned, stop littering. You will see that you have made a difference and you will have more hope. It’s contagious. Other people will want to do more, and the more others do and the more hope you have, the more it encourages you to keep going and it skyrockets.

Every person counts. Each person has a role to play in this crazy life. Each person has an impact on the planet every day, and we can choose what kind of impact we have.

TPP: Considering our background, why do you still have high hopes for the human intellect?

JG: It’s very strange that this most intellectual creature is destroying his only home. But finally, because we are facing a crisis, scientists are increasingly proposing innovative ways to fight climate change, such as renewable energies. Ordinary people are starting to think with their brains about how they can leave a smaller footprint, what they can do every day. So this is my reason for thinking that the human intellect is something that has hope if we use it correctly.

TPP: As a mother of a college student, I can understand that I feel hopeful for the next generation. Why do young people give you hope?

JG: Because of what they do. As we speak, there are groups around the world who are planting trees, cleaning up trash, raising money for earthquake or hurricane victims or for animal shelters or for a big project like saving the koalas. and take care of them after the fires.

These young people are my great reason for hope. They are passionate. They are not going to give up. They know there will be a better future because they say, “Damn, we’re all going to make it so.

TPP: In your book, you have a chapter called “Jane’s Next Big Adventure”. What is that?

JG: Dying! When you die, either there is nothing, in which case I am done, or there is something. I happen to think that there is something, various experiences that I have had. And if so, then I can’t think of a greater adventure than finding out what’s there. And after?


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Stay well!



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