If You Don't Have Hope, Why Bother?

by Rev. Donna McKee on July 15, 2021

This summer I spent some time in Wyoming and Montana. I’d seen some pretty scenery in my life, but this region blew me away! My sister was right when she said, “It’s like Colorado on steroids!” The mountains, rivers, geysers, meadowlands, wildlife, not to mention the wildflowers!—all of it was breathtakingly beautiful. I thought the whole time I was there, “I’ve got to come back here and spend more time.”

I didn’t check the newsfeed on my phone much, but when I did, I was horrified to read that while I was enjoying the cool mountain air during the days and 40 degree nights, the temps were crazy high in the Northwest part of the country. As a result, there were wildfires popping up in several states that have only increased in the days since my return home. Not to mention, the water crisis that persists out West. Lake Powell, on the border of Utah and Arizona, is at the lowest level in decades and projections show that it’s likely to drop even more.

I’d read some about climate change and heard about the heated debate surrounding it (pardon the pun), but being up close and personal with Mother Nature in all her grandeur made me ponder it like never before. What are we going to do to preserve our home? How can we survive without our precious natural resources—water in particular?
When I got home, I read an interview with Jane Goodall. She is 87 years old and while she is most famous for her work as a primatologist—her work with chimpanzees—she is a life-long conservation activist. There was so much in the article that I loved discovering about this extraordinary woman. For instance, she has a big problem with media for telling stories that instill fear instead of hope. She says, “Traveling the world I’d see so many projects of restoration . . . people tackling what seemed impossible and not giving up. Those are the stories that should have equal time, because they are what gives people hope. If you don’t have hope, why bother?”

Another part I loved was when Jane talked about God. The interviewer asked, “Do you believe in God?” She replied, “I believe that there’s an intelligence, a spiritual power that I don’t understand. I call it God because I don’t know what else to call this great spiritual power. It gives me strength. I’ve also had amazing times alone in nature when for a moment you forget you’re human. You’re humanness goes away and you’re part of that natural world. It’s the most amazing and wonderful and beautiful feeling.” I know what you mean, Jane!

But, the most impactful part of the interview, at least for me, was when she was reflecting on her long life and the work that she continues to do. She said, “That’s all I can do. I can’t do more, I don’t think, than I’m doing.”

I took a long pause after reading this and had to ask myself, “What am I doing to preserve our home planet? What am I doing to conserve our precious natural resources? Am I doing all I can?” The answer was no. But, reading Jane’s words gives me hope that I will do more.

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