Jane Goodall: "You've got to get into somebody's heart"

I heard primatologist Jane Goodall, Champion of the Chimps, on the Diane Rehm show today.  She’s been fighting for our closest primate cousins for decades.  She said something that really resonated with me.

“You’ve got to find a way to get into somebody’s heart. And just shouting at them and telling them they’re doing bad things and blinding them with numbers and statistics…you’ll never get anyone to change.”

She was referring to environmentalists who take more aggressive and political approaches to the issues. Her issue-centered philosophy dominates her work.  A caller asked her about Diane Fossey (the Gorillas in the Mist lady).  As contemporaries, Goodall tried to talk Fossey into reaching out to the Gorilla poachers.  They were doing the awful job because they needed money.  Goodall suggested that Fossey could employ them, but Fossey would have nothing to do with it.  It’s believed that the poachers were her ultimate enemies and killed her.

Whether with species or environment preservation or sweatshop issues, I think change can occur if we look at issues through the eyes of all the stakeholders.  Unfortunately, progress often creeps along as stakeholders cover their ears and shout at one another.

It was important for me in “Where Am I Wearing?” that I just didn’t look at the garment industry through the worker’s eyes but also the factory owner’s, the middle man’s, the brand manager’s, and my own as a consumer.

Facts and figures are cold and heartless, but people and personalities and chimps have a way of working their way into people’s hearts.

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