Jane Goodall or Madonna? Inspiration vs. Glitz in Vancouver

There were two shows in town last night, Jane Goodall at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts and Madonna at GM Place. You could not find two women who are more disparate in what they represent.

I went to see Jane Goodall. It was a most inspirational night.

The moment Dr. Goodall walked onto the stage the entire audience stood and gave her a standing ovation. She hadn’t said a word. Goosebumps ran down my spine. I imagine Madonna also received a standing ovation upon her entrance. Hmmm.

When Jane began to speak the entire audience leaned forward, captivated by her stories of living among the chimpanzees in Gombe. In her soft British accent she spoke of the destruction of the habitat in Africa, as well as around the world. She said, “We have lost our wisdom… there has been a disconnect between the head and the heart.”

A disconnect. How profoundly true.

Perhaps there has been a disconnect in the values of society. When a glitzy yet ultimately shallow ‘superstar’ like Madonna draws a much larger crowd (and hence, personal riches) than an inspirational speaker whose work and love for the planet and the creatures on it are tireless, and the money she earns goes back to the planet and creatures on it … well, yes, we have lost our wisdom. There has been a disconnect.

Jane’s presentation was serious but not gloomy. She feels that when humans have their back up against the wall, as we do right now where the health of Mother Earth is concerned, we will be forced to think creatively, and we will find the means to implement those creative solutions needed to restore the planet. She says the environment is ultimately forgiving, and although it will never be the pristine planet it once was, it can be restored to a healthy place. She feels that each and every one of us can make a difference by making informed choices…ie. the food that we purchase… could we have made a better choice for the environment? She believes that if each of us continues to make more and more choices in the planet’s favour, we will turn things around. All the small things add up to make a big difference.

As she spoke I wondered what was happening at the Madonna concert. I thought about how Madonna represents nothing of value to me and how Jane Goodall represents so much. I thought about the media attention that Madonna received compared to what Jane’s visit received. Yet what will each of these women ultimately contribute to the future of mankind?

Disconnect. I couldn’t have said it better.

Shelley Hrdlitschka is the author of eight award-winning teen novels: Gotcha, Sun Signs, Kat's Fall, Dancing Naked, Tangled Web, Disconnected, Beans on Toast.

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