June 6, 2013

Jane Goodall: Roots & Shoots & Change

During my most recent trip to Whole Foods, I came across this magazine, Shambhala Sun, while I was checking out. I decided to pick it up because I was craving some form of spiritual reading. It turns out that I picked up one of todays best-selling and widely-read Buddhist magazine. The July 2013 issue's main focus was on "Your Body", which fell right into place with journey that I'm embarking on in life; truly learning to be in touch with my body both physically, and mentally.

While flipping through the pages I stopped at a Q&A with Jane Goodall, best known for her extensive work with chimpanzees and for being a pioneer of environmental conservation and animal welfare issues. In "For Love of Nature," author Andrea Miller starts off by asking Goodall how she maintains hope. She answered with a beautiful explanation as to why her youth program is called Roots and Shoots.

"My reason for hope is - first of all - my youth program, Roots and Shoots. This is the way I explain why it's called that: children are like plants. They start out as a tiny seed. Then wee roots and shoots appear. They're weak at first, but the power within the seed is so magical that the little roots reach water and the little shoots reach the sun. Eventually, they can push rocks aside and work through cracks in a brick wall. They can even knock a wall down. The rocks and the walls are the problems we've inflicted on the planet - environmental and social - but roots and shoots surround the world. Plants can change the world; they can undo a spot of the damage we've created. And young people are definitely going to change the world" 

While I may not be a child, I am still young and can relate to this description of growing and overcoming obstacles. I think it's important in life that as we get older we still embrace the thinking of a child; the world is theirs and nothing is impossible! Unfortunately today, some people have the attitude that their one little contribution won't make a difference. Later on in the article, Goodall makes an argument as to why individuals shouldn't believe this.

"The big problem today is that so many people feel insignificant. They feel that the problems facing the world are so huge that there's nothing they can do, so they do nothing. And as an individual maybe there really isn't that much, but when you get thousands, and then millions of individuals all doing the best they can every day for the environment and for other beings, then you get huge change" 

So, take a step back and think about what changes you'd wish to see in the world except this time, don't feel discouraged. Find a group or a foundation who shares the same beliefs and volunteer. As Jane ends the article, "It's all a question of how you go about trying to create change."

For more information about Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute, check out www.janegoodall.org.

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