“What gives me hope is that everywhere I go, young people filled with energy want to show me what they’ve done and what they’re doing to make the world a better place. Once they understand the problems and when we empower them to take action, they almost always want to help. And their energy and enthusiasm and creativity are endless.” — Jane Goodall, in The Book Of Hope (p. 115)
Douglas Adams sits down with Jane Goodall for a series of conversations over a span of time that make up the heart of The Book Of Hope (A Survival Guide For Trying Times) and Adams digs deep in his queries to Goodall into the quandary of being hopeful in a world where so much seems to be going off the rails — particularly around climate change.
Given Goodall’s long-standing work around nature and preservation, and how often she has had to confront the worst of humanity in the larger world to protect animals, her optimistic view that people can come together to make change, that there is still time to make a difference on climate change if we act now and with urgency, that we can learn and take comfort from the resilience of the natural world — that she continues to be hopeful in the face of all of the difficulties in the things she loves so passionately — well, that might be a path forward for many of us.
This book-length conversation is full of her stories (and Adams, too) that illustrate her thinking, but it also contains her observations of the ways hope can transform the world. She’s also bluntly realistic, understanding the challenges and the headwinds that always rage against change. Yet she seems willing to engage and to talk with and to argue against and to support anyone with a focused passion and conviction.
There are four main strands of inquiry of what hope is as Adams interviews Goodall here over the course of more than a year — and then with the interruption of the Pandemic that forced them to pause for a bit of time:
- Amazing Human Intellect
- Resilience of Nature
- Power of Young People
- Indomitable Human Spirit
The most powerful message contained in this conversation, I think, is this: every single person can make a difference, even if its a small step forward, but only if you find the agency to act on your hope, and your impact on the world gets magnified when you work with others. Hope without action is just wishful thinking, she suggests, and not very productive.
Or, as Adams puts it in his end notes:
“Hope is a social gift, one that is nurtured and sustained by those around us. Each of us has a web of hope that supports, nurtures, and uplifts us throughout our lives.” — Douglas Adams, The Book Of Hope (p.238)
Peace (and Hope),