Woman famous for studying chimps advocates living in harmony with nature.
Syracuse Post Standard
By Delen Goldberg
Forty years ago, Jane Goodall recognized human qualities in the chimpanzees she studied in Africa. Though they built tools and engaged in warfare, she saw compassion and emotion in the animals scientists previously thought of as purely wild.
Decades later, Goodall continues to study the brutality and compassion of beasts. This time, she’s focused on humans.
“We think we are so special and superior, and we’re destroying our home,” Goodall said to a group of about 100 gathered Tuesday at Onondaga Lake Park. “No animal does that but us.”
Goodall travels the world studying and speaking about the relationship between humans and their environment. Tuesday morning, she stood on the shores of Onondaga Lake with members of the Onondaga Nation to commiserate the destruction of their sacred Onondaga Lake and encourage hope for its salvation.
“Peace is not just laying down weapons. Peace is about living in harmony with nature,” Goodall said.
Those who attended the ceremony made symbolic gestures of cleaning the lake and restoring the environment.
Led by the sounds of the Shenandoah brothers playing native instruments, a group of children from the Onondaga Nation School led a procession of people to the banks of Onondaga Lake, where they poured an urn of clean water into the nation’s most polluted lake.
The water came from an Onondaga Nation spring and was energized by the children, who each stirred the pot with a wooden spoon.
“We are in a way like the lake,” said Tom Porter, spiritual leader of the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community. “We’ve been colonized. We’ve been polluted. We’ve been hurt. We can change it, we can fix it, but we have to know what happened.”
Also, one by one, children from the Onondaga Nation School dropped handfuls of dirt into a large hole dug deep into Onondaga Lake Park.
An “October Glory” red maple tree lay waiting to be planted. Before the crowd moved on to watch a traditional Haudenosaunee dance performance, Jane Goodall kissed one of the maple leaves.
Goodall travels 320 days of the year, spreading a message of peace, sustainability and environmental sensitivity to people across the world. She said environmentalists always ask her about the fuel she uses to travel.
“Everywhere we go, we work out the mileage, the percentage of fuel we use,” Goodall said. “Then the kids plant the number of trees needed to absorb the pollutants.”
Goodall, like the Onondaga leaders, said she remains hopeful for the future of the lake. She pledged her efforts in the cleanup, urged community members to get involved and reminded people to stay focused and inspired.
“Every single one of us makes a difference, every single day,” Goodall said. “You can’t live a day and not make a difference. You just have to decide smartly what kind of difference you want to make.”
Delen Goldberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-2274.