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The 5 Things That Bring Jane Goodall Hope

Let’s not kid ourselves here: the past year has been a fraught and tumultuous one for literally everyone, regardless of politics or anything else. And it can be hard, in times like these, to really see the good in anything. Thankfully, there are people like Jane Goodall in the world. Intrepid souls who refuse to not see the silver linings and ways in which the world has improved (in spite of our inability to perceive it).

So what brings her hope when it seems the darkest? We spoke with the intrepid hero in advance of the world premiere of the latest documentary about her, Jane, featuring footage, previously believed lost, of Goodall and her then-husband, cameraman Hugo van Lawick, as they embarked upon what would end up being the most groundbreaking scientific study of its time. The film itself is a beautiful look at Goodall’s early days, the knowledge she gained from her work, and how she utilized the feedback she received—one based solely on her looks and femininity—to her advantage.

The latest National Geographic endeavor about Goodall—which hits theaters Friday, October 20 and is truly excellent—as directed by Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture, Cobain: Montage of Heck) and scored by the incomparable Philip Glass, Jane is in and of itself a hopeful endeavor, showcasing all the ways in which we can learn from chimpanzees. It’s an empathetic look not only at a career built on perseverance and kindness, but at all the ways in which we can and should be hopeful about all that is beautiful in the world.

So without further ado, the five things that bring someone as inspiring as Jane Goodall hope. (Warning: it’s as inspiring a list as the woman who made it.)

1.) Young People

“I keep meeting young people who have lost hope in the future and if that happens, we may as well all give up,” Goodall explained matter-of-factly. “So our program, Roots & Shoots, which is for young people—from preschool to university [and] everything between—taking action about projects that they choose, wanting to help people, wanting to help animals, wanting to help the environment, rolling up their sleeves and getting out there and doing it. They’re changing the world as we speak. And they’re also influencing their parents, their grandparents. Many of them have been through the programs since ’91 and they’re now in decision-making positions. In these hundred countries where it exists.”

2.) Innovation

“This extraordinary intellect of ours and when we use it in the right way,” said Goodall, “we are coming up with the innovative technology, clean energy and solar and wind. And we’re beginning to think how we can actually take steps in our own individual lives to make less of a heavy damaging foot print on the environment.”

3.) The Resilience of Nature

“We can utterly destroy a place, utterly destroy it, and given time and perhaps some help, it can once again support life,” Goodall reminded us. “It may not be exactly as it was, but I’ve seen so many examples of it. Animals on the very brink of extinction are here because people said, “no, we’re not going to let them become extinct.”

4.) Social Media

Perhaps most surprising was this point. “Used in the right way, we can, for the first time ever, bring people from all over the globe who care passionately about, say, climate change. We can help them to hear each other’s voices, so that they feel strengthened, they don’t feel alone, and they will, therefore, have more hope themselves and take more action.”

5.) The Human Spirit

“People who tackle what seems impossible and won’t give up,” Goodall earnestly stated. “And icons like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, then people I’ve met with terrible disabilities who you’d think would just give up. But, instead they’re out there inspiring every body around them. Migrants who come in with nothing, they’ve lost everything. And yet, they pull their lives together and make success.”

What inspires you most of all? Let us know in the comments below.

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor, creator/host of Fangirling, and resident Khaleesi of House Nerdist. Find her on Twitter!

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Images and GIFs: National Geographic; Giphy

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