On September 20, I had the opportunity to meet Jane Goodall. One of our M.Ed. students, Shawn Sweeney, who works for Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program, organized the annual Roots and Shoots Day of Peace celebration and parade in New York and invited me to share some thoughts before Jane Goodall gave her presentation. We were speaking at Bowling Green Park in lower Manhattan. It’s a touristy area, near the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, so many tour buses were going by as Jane Goodall spoke. There were lots of people meandering along the streets, too, and one couple walked behind the platform where Dr. Goodall was speaking and turned to look at who was talking. Recognizing the famous person before her, the woman excitedly whispered to her partner, “Look, it’s Jane Goodall!” before stopping to listen to the rest of the speech.
Humbly and with such extraordinary commitment, Jane Goodall travels 300 days each year to speak to groups about protecting this beautiful planet and all who live here. Imagine that. Imagine traveling 6/7ths of each year in order to teach and inspire and protect. Imagine harnessing your love for people, animals, and the earth and dedicating your life to making such a difference. With little fanfare – despite her fame – Dr. Goodall, at 75 years old, perseveres.
I want to share a story Dr. Goodall shared with us. She spoke about being in Greenland where the ice is melting so quickly. An Inuit elder talked to her about the terrible and dangerous thaw of the icecaps and glaciers that those of us in warmer climates are causing, and he said that we must learn to thaw the ice in our hearts.
I find this metaphor compelling – it reminds me of one of the elements of humane education: fostering reverence, respect, and responsibility. What is the ice in our hearts? I think of it not just as our lack of compassion, but also as our lack of understanding — our close-mindedness as well as our hard-heartedness. I think of it as the frozen ideas that need to thaw so that we can care about more than the latest fashions, trends, movies, and so on. There in New York City, mecca of fashion and trendiness, Jane Goodall invited us to thaw our hearts, and in so doing, work for real peace. What an inspiration she is and what amazing work her Roots and Shoots program – with chapters in over 100 countries – is doing.
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Filed under: changemakers, citizen activism, global warming, humane education, peace, responsibility, Zoe Weil appearances Tagged: | changemakers, global warming, humane education, International Day of Peace, Jane Goodall, New York, peace, respect, responsibility, reverence, Roots and Shoots, systemic change, zoe weil