Jane Goodall

On 17 November 2021, I had the spectacular opportunity to listen to Dr. Jane Goodall speak at Arizona State University's TomorrowTalks. Dr. Goodall is a renowned anthropologist, United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dame of the British Empire, and all-around wonderful person with a plethora of honors that are too numerous to list. She also does not require an introduction, from me, by any means.

The following were some highlights she spoke on that I found particularly interesting, touching, or enlightening:

Speaking on Education

A poignant question Dr. Goodall received was about being a woman, attending higher education, and broaching anthropology as a major:

"Girls weren't scientists back then. Everyone laughed at me.... Because you did it, I can do it too..... I hadn't been to college. Which was because I couldn't afford it."

The conversation continued and she expressed her thoughts on the worth of a college education at the time. She already had much practical field experience and expressed ideas that were not prevalent in the academic world:

"If I had been to college, would my thinking about animals have changed? I don't think so. I don't know if professors believed what they said when they said that animals didn't have minds, emotions, personalities - But anyone who has interacted with a pet, a dog, a horse, it doesn't matter, they know they have depth."

Speaking on Hope

The world is in a concerning place with a future that looks uncertain. Dr. Goodall adamantly expressed that the youth of today were the hope of tomorrow. That hope is alive because we work toward it:

"We don't just sit in a dark tunnel and hope that the light comes to us. We have to go over, climb over, all the obstacles between us and the light to get there.... Hope isn't a passive quality. It's being truly engaged."

Speaking on Inspiration and Support

Dr. Goodall addressed her first sparks of inspiration, access to knowledge. She caveated that access with a soft warning about the veracity of sources:

"It was my family and books. I read every book I could. Books and nature.... It's a bit sad that there's so much on the internet that isn't true."

Speaking on Activism and Helping People Change

Dovetailing into her conversation about youth activism and driving hope, Dr. Goodall expressed that she found storytelling to be an effective communication bridge. Connecting with others through story helped her throughout her life:

"The only way you can change people is when you reach the heart. Storytelling is a way to the heart.... It's the stories that really changed people. It's what made people want to come and work with the chimpanzees and baboons even."

Closing Thoughts

I never had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Goodall speak before this. She's a brilliant and impassioned about getting younger generations engaged in creating a better world. We are active participants, whether we like it or not, and we have the responsibility to take the torch and continue improving this home we've inherited.