When the Jane Goodall biography hit our library shelves last month, I was one of the first on the wait list to borrow it.
Between its covers, I found an intrepid woman committed not only to the protection of her beloved chimpanzees, but to many other species needing aid. From her childhood pets to her detailed studies in Africa to her later environmental activism, Ms. Goodall's integrity and compassion set a standard.
April 22, Earth Day, is a good time to honor those who have done so much and to think about our own role as caretakers of the planet.
Reviewed by the Monitor last year (Dec. 12, 2006), "Jane Goodall, The Woman Who Redefined Man" by Dale Peterson got me thinking about the issue of protecting the earth's wildlife and resources. I'm not cut out to be a research scientist or a public policymaker. So what can I do, I asked myself.
I also recalled another woman, Mary Baker Eddy, who loved all kinds of life from early childhood. Her father, a farmer, brought her sick animals on more than one occasion, and with her gentle touch and tender love, they were healed. Later, this natural warmth for animals and birds grew into a broader desire to bring healing answers to anyone who was struggling.
Thinking of this, I realized that there is something I can do now to make our earth a better place. I can more deeply appreciate the animals, birds, and insects that appear in my life. I can remember that, in their own individual ways, they each express something of God's nature, which is purely good. By recognizing and respecting them, I am taking notice of what God has made. I can also raise my concept for wildlife worldwide, and when I feel it's appropriate, contribute in some way to organizations that protect and study nature.
The Bible says that God formed all life, and He made it to show His goodness. The Psalmist knew this when he sang: "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts" (Ps. 104:24, 25).
I love that message because it evokes the goodness and infinite diversity of God's kingdom. It shouts out the wonders of God's universe. The writer inspires us to put in the effort required to care for the creation that God gives us.
We can know, too, that since God made everything in "wisdom," what He created was meant to last – that is, it's spiritual.
As an adult, Mary Baker Eddy had this to say, "God is the Life, or intelligence, which forms and preserves the individuality and identity of animals as well as of men" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 550). She knew that the distinct identity of each spiritual idea, originating in God, reflects eternal Life. It can never be threatened or destroyed.
Remembering this gives us a higher viewpoint and provides encouragement when we feel saddened by distressing environmental statistics.
Instead of being impressed by negativity, we can thank God for what is working right, ask for guidance regarding the things that need improvement, and focus on making progress.
Jane Goodall spent hours sitting quietly in the forest. She treasured what she saw, even the snakes and insects. She did her job of observing chimpanzees with enthusiasm and gratitude, and those long hours of study prepared her for the protection and conservation work that would follow in later years.
If she could do all that, then I can surely find a few minutes every day to love what God has created, and what is hinted at by the life and beauty that I see each day.
The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.