Why Sir David Attenborough is My Hero

A National Treasure

My husband’s old workplace had a sick game called “the death race”, where people would be randomly allocated an older celebrity’s name, put in a small amount of money every week, and upon the death of their allocated celebrity the person would win the jackpot. Now I have an admittedly dark sense of humour, but not when one of the celebrities was my hero… I was not impressed.

I know he’s getting on a bit, he’s been on the TV my whole life (I’m a thirty-something) and I’m sure he’s had grey hair that entire time, but to me the man is a living legend. And a treasure to our nation. He’s a symbol of all that’s great about the UK… well spoken, well educated, using his influence for good. I don’t get easily star-struck but I’m not sure how I’d react if I met him.

A Huge Influence

Along with spending a lot of time outdoors with my parents (and grandparents) when I was a kid, I used to watch a lot of nature documentaries and they were instrumental both in making me want to study and teach science, but also making me want to write about and take action on environmental issues. The king of nature documentaries at the time (and still to this day) was Sir David. I was fascinated by the interactions between the animals and the way they were presented by his knowledgeable, soothing, lyrical narration. His style and grace combined with advances in technology and science have made some of the recent documentaries total masterpieces.

His increasingly vocal warnings about the environment have made me admire him even more. Having someone of such stature champion causes I am so passionate about, both re-enforces and elevates my desire to speak up and carry the torch of environmentalism.

He’s Not Perfect

In his early career, Sir David travelled and collected animals as part of the programme Zoo Quest. Something myself and many others consider something not to be acceptable any more. He also has expressed regret at missing out on time with his family due to travel. But this to me makes him all the more relatable, we are all human and have things in our past that we cannot change, striving to improve ourselves and make a difference is what counts.

Our Shared World View

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”

No other scientist, teacher, nor influence of mine, seem to have quite the same view of the world, or have such an affable way of putting this across. Such a wonderful world view it is and it’s one I share and completely agree with. There’s something very special about having a sense of awe at the natural world whilst still being able to look at it from a rational, scientific point of view. Although I don’t follow an organised religion or believe in an all knowing, all powerful creator, to say that something does or does not exist (without an extensive body of proof) is actually fundamentally unscientific.

He’s Inherently Quotable

He is smart, funny and inherently quotable:

“No, not a feminist. I’m a humanist. I’m neither one side nor the other. It’s about the human being. And wanting human beings to be better off so they don’t view children as an insurance for the future.”

“You know, it’s a terrible thing to appear on television, because people think you actually know what you’re talking about.”

“I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.”

I hope I get the chance to meet him, I really do. But until then, I’ll just leave this here:

 

 

 

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