Monday, September 24, 2007

One hell of a woman and her mosquito

I've just been told that the woman in whose hands the world would always change for the better passed away. At 64, much too early, Anita Roddick, left us. What a brave soul she was, never afraid to address the painful issues in our societies. She was never interested in being politically correct or in even being sensitive to her audience, she would just speak from her heart. She fought injustice with all her energy and passion.

What a drive she had...! There were only a very few bridges too far for her. She got far, very far, because she dared to cross whatever challenge was in front of her. From a tiny shop in Brighton, she created, together with her husband Gordon, one of the first companies - The Body Shop - that really did business just for social change. Yet for me, the most important part of her legacy is not her company - it is the simple fact that every individual can indeed change the world. "Just do it", could have been her tagline. So she lived. No regrets.

Well, perhaps one, she said to me a few years ago. In hindsight, she would have never let The Body Shop go to the stock exchange. In the end, that decision made her instrument for social change part of the world of money and that meant that ultimately The Body Shop had to play by its rules. There is probably nothing that frustrated her more.

I remember the time she cooked a spaghetti dinner for me in her home in the English countryside (she was always proud of her Italian roots). That evening, I tried to convince her about the importance of the media being more positive and more optimistic to inspire and stimulate people. She listened as well as she could, but I could tell I wasn't really reaching her. In her eyes and thoughts I could read too much other pain and global injustice that needed her energy. And, I felt at the moment that she was probably right. The world needs troublemakers to stand up for the issues that we all know that we need to fight for but that few of us actually do.

The world needed Anita Roddick. The world still needs us to stand up for the good causes that keep calling us. When it came to spreading the word – about Ode Magazine, about anything, and whether or not the size of a campaign would matter, she would always say, "If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito."

There will be places where people will feel a sense of relief because they now know that they will never again be confronted by Anita's passion. Let's make a vow that we will stand there in her name. I will.

- Jurriaan Kamp, Publisher Ode Magazine

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