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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Diane, Me Jane

Now, you may be saying to your screen, "I thought you're name was Lori?" or "Maybe we should call you Sybil!". Very funny, but actually I'm referring to more of a state of mind than a name.

I'm talking about Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey.

You probably know Jane Goodall as the species activist and anthropologist who lived with chimpanzees starting in the 1960's. She's advocated for environment and species protection ever since. I was lucky enough to attend one of her lectures about a decade ago and I was struck by how 'kindly' she was. In fact, she's downright 'grandmotherly' now. Her mannerisms and way of speaking were so gentle and wise that I was drawn in immediately and by the end of the speech, I was ready to follow her absolutely anywhere rescuing chimpanzees along the way.

In contrast, Diane Fossey was an outright warrior. Unfortunately she was murdered in her pursuit of species protection. Her cause: the Mountain Gorilla. If you don't know the story, watch Gorillas in the Mist starring Sigourney Weaver as Diane Fossey. It's an oldie but a goodie. Fossey's approach was the polar opposite of Jane Goodall even though they were really working on the same type of goal. Fossey was loud and violent and fierce in her attempt to protect mountain gorillas. I think the movie does a nice job of showing this. And when I watched it again, I was moved to do something fierce. Both approaches worked on me. But I'm fickle that way. If someone makes a good argument, the very least I'll do is respect them even if I don't ultimately agree with them. Even though she wasn't well liked (that's an understatement), like Jane Goodall, she was also deeply respected. And in the end, her work & murder have drawn a great deal of attention to a very dire situation, so ultimately she accomplished her goal.

I use these two women as examples because their approaches are so very different. Sometimes you need to be wise and grandmotherly and sometimes you need to be a raving bitch. Whichever is appropriate. I have raving bitch moments... but mostly I'm grandmotherly, or at least that's what people think. Hopefully they don't think I'm actually a grandmother and are just referring to my nature. I mean, for God's sake, I just barely turned 40!

I have friends who try to approach everything in a kindly diplomatic sort of way. This is nice and gentle and it's their way, and it can accomplish a lot. So there's no criticism here. But there are times that require fierceness! I think the trick is in knowing the difference. So for my gentile friends, the phrase "choosing your battles" really means "I'm walking away now." I think the phrase "choosing your battles" should mean "be fierce when you need to be."

You also have to know what kind of people you're dealing with. For instance, if you're trying to get a group of nuns to let you bathe in the church's fountain, then fierceness... probably not a good idea. If your upset with the TSA because they fondled your junk... let me just say... fierce = Guantanamo!

BUT, if you're doing a midnight rescue of an abused dog... well, fierceness is just the ticket. If you're defending someone against a bully, again... be fierce. Remember that by fierce I don't mean raise your hand to someone. I absolutely do not support violence. But defending yourself is an option at any time. And, there are ways to be fierce without being violent.

So, gauge the situation. Gauge the people you're dealing with. Take inventory of yourself and whether or not you're prepared or qualified to deal with the situation. Then breathe. Then GO JANE! Uh... or DIANE!

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