I just finished listening to Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams’ The Book of Hope, and it was a very well-spent six hours. Abrams also wrote The Book of Joy with Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama and is the same format — transcribed interviews over several sessions with tidbits of data, science, and Abrams’ own experience sprinkled throughout. The back-and-forth confirms one of my mantras — “The interaction is the inspiration.” When we dialogue or commune together, the sparks really fly.

I’m filled with longing and hope after listening to Doug and Jane’s conversation. A few takeaways:

Preserving wildlife habitat is a matter of life and death for all of us. The news came out this week that Covid-19 didn’t start in a lab. It started it a market selling wild animals. Jane speaks to this at the end of the book. It’s her prediction a year before we get this news. She says that, as long as we don’t create enough space between humans and wildlife and as long as we don’t value the lives of animals, we will pay for it with things like pandemics and disease.

All of us have undiscovered gifts waiting to be used. I loved hearing Doug interview her about her transformation from a shy young woman to traveling the globe 300+ days/year to speak to heads of state and corporate leaders. She said she discovered she had a gift, as all of us do, and it was her joy and responsibility to use it.

People trust us when we face the facts. Her ability to lay out the stark facts of our suffering planet is exactly what gives her the right to encourage us toward hope. As Rumi says, suffering are joy are two wings of the same bird. Anyone peddling just one is suspect — both the cynics and the purveyors of toxic positivity.

Our small, ethical actions make a difference. She says, “Remember — as individuals we make a difference every day and millions of our individual ethical choices in how we behave will move us toward a more sustainable world.” I really needed to hear this.

It’s not the experts who will save us. Jane has great respect for scientists and technological advances and for our collective ability to solve problems. But first we have to have the relationships with one another and with the natural world that build the will to dream about and work for a better world. No expert can do this for us — it’s a matter of the heart.

What about you? What’s inspiring you these days? Hope isn’t foolish–we really can’t live without it.