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Aug 15, 2006
Jane Goodall — My Four Reasons for Hope

It is easy to be overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness as we look around the world. Is there, in fact, hope for Africa's future? Yes. Provided human populations develop programs that will stabilize, or optimize, their growth rate. It is very important to implement child healthcare programs along with family planning so that women can expect that their children will live - instead of knowing, as they do today, that many of them will die.

There are many signs of hope. Along a lakeshore in Tanzania, for example, villagers are planting trees where all the trees had disappeared. Women are taking more control over their lives, and, once they become better educated, then the birth rate begins to drop. And the children are being taught about the dire effects of habitat destruction. There is the terrible pollution around the world, the balance of nature is disturbed, and we are destroying our beautiful planet. There are fears of new epidemics for which there will be no drugs, and, rather than fight the cause, we torture millions of animals in the name of medical progress. But in spite of all this I do have hope. And my hope is based on three factors.


The Human Brain


Firstly, we have at last begun to understand and face up to the problems that threaten us and the survival of life on Earth as we know it. Surely, then, we can use our problem-solving abilities, our brains, and, joining hands around the world, find ways to live that are in harmony with nature. Indeed, many companies have begun "greening" their operations, and millions of people worldwide are beginning to realize that each one of us has a responsibility to the environment and our descendants, and that the way each one of us lives our life does matter, does make a difference.


The Determination of Young People


My second reason for hope lies in the tremendous energy, enthusiasm and commitment of a growing number of young people around the world. As they find out about the environmental and social problems that are now part of their heritage, they want to fight to right the wrongs. Of course they do - they have a vested interest in this, for it will be their world tomorrow. They will be moving into leadership positions, into the work force, becoming parents themselves. Young people, when informed and empowered, when they realize that what they do truly makes a difference, can indeed change the world.


The Indomitable Human Spirit


My third reason for hope lies in the indomitable nature of the human spirit. There are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds, or blazed a path along which others could follow. As I travel around the world I meet so many incredible and amazing human beings. They inspire me. They inspire those around them.


The Resilience of Nature


My fourth reason for hope is the incredible resilience of nature. I have visited Nagasaki, site of the second atomic bomb that ended World War II. Scientists had predicted that nothing could grow there for at least 30 years. But, amazingly, greenery grew very quickly. One sapling actually managed to survive the bombing, and today it is a large tree, with great cracks and fissures, all black inside; but that tree still produces leaves. I carry one of those leaves with me as a powerful symbol of hope. I have seen such renewals time and again, including animal species brought back from the brink of extinction.


So let us move into the next millennium with hope, for without it all we can do is eat and drink the last of our resources as we watch our planet slowly die. Instead, let us have faith in ourselves, in our intellect, in our staunch spirit. Let us develop respect for all living things. Let us try to replace impatience and intolerance with understanding and compassion. And love.

http://www.janegoodall.org/jane/essay.asp
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Posted: Aug 15, 2006 12:58pm

 

 
 
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Melanie B.
, 3
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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