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About the Author
Jane Goodall is the world's foremost authority on chimpanzees. An internationally renowned conservationist, she is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and has received many distinguished awards in science. Dr. Goodall is also the author of many acclaimed books, including the bestseller Reason for Hope.
Read an Excerpt
This is a story about a journey, the journey of one human being through sixty-five years of earth time: my journey. Traditionally, a story begins at the beginning. But what is the beginning? Is it the moment when I was born, with all the charming ugliness of the newborn human baby, in a hospital in London? The first breath I drew so that I could yell about the pain and indignity of my forced expulsion from the womb? Or should we start earlier, in the dark, moist secret place where one little wiggling spermone out of millionsmanaged to burrow into one little ovumthe fertile egg that was biologically, magically, transformed into a baby? But that, really, is not the beginning. For the genes that were handed down to me by my parents were created long, long ago. And my inherited traits were molded by the people and the events surrounding my early years: the characters and position of my parents, the country into which I was born, and the era in which I grew up. So should the story start with my parents, with the historical and social events that shaped Europe in the 1930s, that molded Hitler and Churchill and Stalin? Or perhaps we should go back to the first truly human creature that was born of ape-men parentage, or back to the first little warm-blooded mammal? Or should we go back and back through the mists of unknown time to when the first speck of life appeared on planet earthas a result of some divine purpose or cosmic accident? From there we could start my story, tracing the strange paths that life has taken: from amoeba, through apes, to minds that cancontemplate the existence of a God, and strive to understand the meaning of life on earth and beyond the stars.
I do not want to discuss evolution in such depth, however, only touch on it from my own perspective: from the moment when I stood on the Serengeti plains holding the fossilized bones of ancient creatures in my hands to the moment when, staring into the eyes of a chimpanzee, I saw a thinking, reasoning personality looking back. You may not believe in evolution, and that is all right. How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves. How should the mind that can contemplate God relate to our fellow beings, the other life-forms of the world? What is our human responsibility? And what, ultimately, is our human destiny? It will serve my purpose to begin, simply, from the time when I drew my first breath and screwed up my face to cry my first cry, on April 3, 1934.
Through the years I have encountered people and been involved in events that have had huge impact, knocked off rough corners, lifted me to the heights of joy, plunged me into the depth of sorrow and anguish, taught me to laugh, especially at myselfin other words, my life experiences and the people with whom I shared them have been my teachers. At times I have felt like a helpless bit of flotsam, at one moment stranded in a placid backwater that knew not, cared not, that I was there, then swept out to be hurled about in an unfeeling sea. At other times I felt I was being sucked under by strong, unknowing currents toward annihilation. Yet somehow, looking back through my life, with its downs and its ups, its despairs and its joys, I believe that I was following some overall planthough to be sure there were many times when I strayed from the course. Yet I was never truly lost. It seems to me now that the flotsam speck was being gently nudged or fiercely blown along a very specific route by an unseen, intangible Wind. The flotsam speck that wasthat isme.
Without a shadow of a doubt my upbringing, the family into which I was born and the events that unfolded in the world around my childhood, shaped the person I would become. I grew up, with my sister, Judy (four years younger than I to the day), in an atmosphere that had become gently permeated by the ethics of Christianity. Our family's religion was never rammed down our throats, we were never forced to attend church, and we did not say grace before our meals (except at school). However, we were expected to say our prayers at night, kneeling on the floor at the side of the bed. From the beginning we were taught the importance of human values such as courage, honesty, compassion, and tolerance.
Like most children before the age of TV and computer games, I loved being outside, playing in the secret places in the garden, learning about nature. My love of living things was encouraged, so that from the very beginning I was able to develop that sense of wonder, of awe, that can lead to spiritual awareness. We were by no means a wealthy family, but money was not important. It didn't matter that we couldn't afford a car, or even a bicycle, or expensive holidays abroadwe had enough to eat, some clothes to wear, and an abundance of love, laughter, and fun. Indeed, mine was the very best kind of childhood: because every penny mattered, everything that was extra such as an ice cream, a journey on a train, a cinema, was a treat, exciting, to be treasured and remembered. If only everyone could be blessed with such a childhood, such a family. How different, I believe, the world would be.
As I look back over the sixty-five years of my life to date it seems that things just fell into place. I had a mother who not only tolerated but also encouraged my passion for nature and animals and who, even more important, taught me to believe in myself. Everything led in the most natural way, it seems now, to that magical invitation to Africa in 1957, where I would meet Dr. Louis Leakey, who would set me on my way to Gombe and the chimpanzees. Indeed, I have been extraordinarily luckyalthough as my mother, Vanne, always says, luck was only part of the story. She has always believed, as did her mother, that success comes through determination and hard work and that "the fault . . . is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings." I certainly believe that is true. Yet though I have worked hard all my lifefor who wants to be an "underling" if it can be avoided!I must admit that the "stars" seem to have played their part too. After all, I didn't strive (so far as I know) to be born into my own wonderful home. And then there was Jubilee, bought for me as a present by my father (Mortimer "Mort" Goodall), when I was just over one year old. Jubilee was a large, stuffed chimpanzee toy, created to celebrate the birth of Jubilee, the first chimpanzee infant ever born at the London Zoo. My mother's friends were horrified by this toy, thinking it would frighten me and give me nightmares. But Jubilee instantly became my most cherished possession and accompanied me on nearly all my childhood adventures. To this day, old Jubilee is still with me, almost hairless from all the loving, spending most of his time in my bedroom in the house where I grew up in England.
I was always absolutely fascinated by animals of all sorts. Yet I was born right in the heart of London, where animals were limited to dogs and cats, sparrows, pigeons, and some insect life in the small garden shared by the inhabitants of the mews where we lived. Even when we moved to a house just outside the city, from where my father would commute each day to his engineering job, nature was subjugated to pavement, houses, and manicured gardens.
My mother, Vanne, now aged ninety-four, has always loved to tell stories about my early fascination with animals and concern for their welfare. One of her favorites is of the time when, around the age of eighteen months, I collected a whole handful of earthworms from the London garden and took them to bed with me.
"Jane," she said, staring at the wriggling collection, "if you keep them here they'll die. They need the earth."
So I hurriedly collected up all the worms and toddled back with them into the garden.
Soon after this, we went to stay with some friends who had a house near a wild rocky beach in Cornwall. When we went down to the sea I was enthralled by the tide pools and their teeming life. No one realized that the seashells I carried back to the house in my bucket were all alive. When Vanne came up to my room she found little bright yellow sea snails crawling everywherethe bedroom floor, up the walls, behind the wardrobe. When she explained that the snails would die when taken from the sea, I became hysterical. The entire household, she says, had instantly to drop what it was doing and help me collect the snails so that they could be rushed back to the sea.
One story has been told many times because it shows how, even as a four-year-old, I already had the makings of a true naturalist. Vanne had taken me to stay with my father's mother, Mrs. Nutt (I called her Danny Nutt because I could not say "granny"), at the family farm. One of my tasks was to collect the hens' eggs. As the days passed, I became more and more puzzled. Where on a chicken was there an opening big enough for an egg to come out? Apparently no one explained this properly, so I must have decided to find out for myself. I followed a hen into one of the little wooden henhousesbut of course, as I crawled after her she gave horrified squawks and hurriedly left. My young brain must have then worked out that I would have to be there first. So I crawled into another henhouse and waited, hoping a hen would come in to lay. And there I remained, crouched silently in one corner, concealed in some straw, waiting. At last a hen came in, scratched about in the straw, and settled herself on her makeshift nest just in front of me. I must have kept very still or she would have been disturbed. Presently the hen half stood and I saw a round white object gradually protruding from the feathers between her legs. Suddenly with a plop, the egg landed on the straw. With clucks of pleasure the hen shook her feathers, nudged the egg with her beak, and left. It is quite extraordinary how clearly I remember that whole sequence of events.
Filled with excitement I squeezed out after her and ran home. It was almost darkI had been in that small stuffy henhouse for nearly four hours. I was oblivious of the fact that no one had known where I was, and that the whole household had been searching for me. They had even called the police to report me missing. Yet despite her worry, when Vanne, still searching, saw the excited little girl rushing toward the house, she did not scold me. She noticed my shining eyes and sat down to listen to the story of how a hen lays an egg: the wonder of that moment when the egg finally fell to the ground.
Certainly I was lucky to be provided with a mother wise enough to nurture and encourage my love of living things and my passion for knowledge. Most important was her philosophy that her children should always try their very best. How would I have turned out, I sometimes wonder, had I grown up in a house that stifled enterprise by imposing harsh and senseless discipline? Or in an atmosphere of overindulgence, in a household where there were no rules, no boundaries drawn? My mother certainly understood the importance of discipline, but she always explained why some things were not allowed. Above all, she tried to be fair and to be consistent.
When I was five years old and my sister, Judy, was one, we all went to live in France, as my father wanted very much for us to grow up speaking fluent French. But this was not to be, for, within a few months of our arrival, Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia, an act that would lead to World War II. It was decided that we should return to England, and since our house near London had been sold we went to stay with Danny Nutt in the old manor house where my father had grown up. Built of gray stone, it nestled into the Kent countryside, surrounded by fields of grazing cows and sheep. I passionately loved my time there. On the grounds of the manor house were the ruins of a castle where King Henry VIII had held one of his wivescrumbling blocks of gray stone filled with spiders and bats. Inside the manor house itself there was always the faint smell of the oil lamps that were lit each evening, for there was no electricity. Even now, more than sixty years later, the smell of oil lamps always takes me back to those magical days. But they did not last long. The impending horror of war was coming closer and, knowing my father would join the army at the first opportunity, Vanne took Judy and me to stay with her own mother at the Birches, an 1872 Victorian red-brick house in Bournemouth.
On September 3, 1939, it happened: England declared war on Germany. I was only five and a half years old at the time, yet I remember the occasion. The whole family was in the drawing room. The atmosphere was tense as everyone listened to the news on the wireless; after the announcement there was silence. Of course I didn't understand what was going on, but that silence, the sense of impending doom, was very frightening. Even now, half a century later, I cannot hear the chiming of Big Benwhich always preceded the BBC newswithout an involuntary shock of apprehension.
As expected my father enlisted immediately, so the Birches, just a few minutes' walk from the English Channel, became my home. It was there, on the south coast of England, that I would spend the rest of my childhood and adolescence. Indeed, this much loved house is still my home, my refuge, when I am in England. It is where I am writing this book.
My maternal grandmother, known to all as Danny (again because I could not pronounce "granny"), was the undisputed head of the extended family that shared the Birches. She was a strong, self-disciplined, iron-willed Victorian who ruled over us with supreme authority and had a heart big enough to embrace all the starving children of the world. Her husband, a Welshman, had been a Congregational parson and had died before I was born. He had also been a brilliant scholar, receiving degrees in theology from three universitiesCardiff, Oxford, and Yale. And Danny, who survived him by more than thirty years, kept all his letters, tied up in red ribbon, and often read them before she slept. Also, she told us, she counted her blessings every night as she lay in bed, waiting for sleep. Above all, she had a horror of going to bed without making peace with those around her. There are always little upsets, minor rows, when many people live togetherthese should be resolved before bedtime; "Let not the sun set on thy wrath" she would quote. And to this day I hear her voice, when I quarrel with a friend: "How terrible you would feel if he (or she) should die before you made it up, before you said sorry." I think that is why the words of Walter de la Mare strike home when he bids us "Look thy last on all things lovely every hour."
We shared the Birches with my mother's two sisters, Olwenimmediately dubbed Olly by meand Audrey, who preferred to be called by her Welsh name, Gwyneth. Their elder brother, Uncle Eric, who was a surgeon, came home from his hospital in London most weekends. And soon after the start of the war we took in two single women who, like hundreds of others, were left homeless by the ever-spreading chaos and destruction in Europe. All households were asked to find space for such unfortunates. And so the Birches, at that time, was an active place, filled with people of all sorts. We simply had to learn to get along with each other. The house had (and still has) a warm atmosphere; it was full of character and, despite the number of people, filled with peace. Best of all there was a big garden or backyard with many trees, and a green lawn and lots of secret places behind the bushes where, of course, gnomes and fairies lived and danced in the moonlight. My love for nature grew as I watched birds making their nests, spiders carrying their egg sacs, squirrels chasing each other round the trees.
My memories of childhood are almost inseparable from memories of Rusty, an endearing black mongrel dog with a white patch on his chest. He was my constant companion, and he taught me so much about the true nature of animals. There were other pets too at different times. A succession of cats, our two guinea pigs, a golden hamster, various tortoises, a terrapin, and a canary, Peter, who slept in a cage but was free to fly about the room in the daytime. For a while Judy and I each had our own "racing" snails with numbers painted on their shells. We kept them in an old wooden box with a piece of glass on the top and no bottom so they could eat the dandelion leaves as we moved the box around the lawn.
In one part of the garden there was a little clearing behind some thick bushes where Judy and I established a "camp" for the meetings of our club, a club which had just four members, we two and our best friends Sally and Susie Cary, who came to stay every summer holiday. In the camp we kept an old trunk containing four mugs, small supplies of cocoa and tea, and a spoon. We would light a fire and boil water in a tin can balanced on four rocks. Sometimes we went there for midnight "feasts"; during the war years almost everything was rationed, so we seldom had more than a biscuit or a crust of bread saved from our meals. It was the excitement, the silent creeping from the house, the lawn and trees ghostly in the moonlight, that we loved. Our feeling of achievement as we defied the rules provided the fun, not the insignificant bits and pieces that we gathered to eat. To this day, food is supremely unimportant to me.
Like most children who grow up in happy homes, I never had cause to question the religious beliefs of my family. Did God exist? Of course. God was as real to me then as the wind that rustled through the trees in our garden. God somehow cared for a magical world, full of fascinating animals and people who were mostly friendly and kind. It was an enchanted world for me, full of joy and wonder, and I felt very much a part of it.
Danny went to church every Sunday and at least one of us always went with her. Indeed, Audrey never missed a service, and Olly sang in the choir. But we children were never forced to go with them, nor did we go to Sunday School. Nevertheless, Danny tried to make sure that our beliefs weren't limited to the animistic worship of nature and animals. She believed deeply in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. She wanted Judy and me to share her belief for the comfort it would bring. And so she did her best to ensure that the ethics and wisdom of Christ's teachings influenced our lives. The rules that we had to obey were the simple ones contained in the Ten Commandments. She would sometimes quote texts from the Bible. Her very favorite, which I took as my own, was: "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." This has helped me through the hardest times of my life. Somehow we shall find the strength to get through a day of unhappiness, of suffering, of heartache. Somehow, I always have.
As a child I was not at all keen on going to school. I dreamed about nature, animals, and the magic of far-off wild and remote places. Our house was filled with bookshelves and the books spilled out onto the floor. When it was wet and cold, I would curl up in a chair by the fire and lose myself in other worlds. My very favorite books at the time were The Story of Dr. Dolittle, The Jungle Book, and the marvelous Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan books. I also loved The Wind in the Willows, and, to this day, I remember the beautiful and mystical experience shared by Ratty and Mole when they found the missing otter cub curled up between the cloven hoofs of the sylvan god, Pan. And I was enthralled by one other book: At the Back of the North Winda story full of Victorian moralizing that would make no sense to the children of today. Little Diamond, its boy hero, slept in a loft above Big Diamond, the cab horse upon whom the family, which was poor, depended for its livelihood. The icy north wind blew into Little Diamond's loft, and then appeared to the boy as a beautiful woman, sometimes small as a tinkerbell, sometimes tall as an elm tree. Then she would take him to see the world, safe in the still place behind the wind, curled into a nest that she made for him in her beautiful, long, thick hair. It was magic, mystical, and it introduced me to human suffering in story form, preparing me, in a way, for the real-life suffering of war. For the war was raging in Europe and, all too soon, it would make itself felt even in sleepy Bournemouth.
More and more often we would hear the drone of a German plane and the thunder of an exploding bomb. We were fortunate, as nothing fell close enough to do damage. But the windows rattled loudly, and some panes of glass were cracked. How well I still remember the wailing of the air-raid warnings. They usually sounded sometime in the night for that was when the bombers came over. Then we had to leave our beds and huddle together in the little air-raid shelter that was erected in our house in the small room (once a maid's bedroom) that, even today, is known as the "air-raid." It was a low, steel-roofed cage about six feet by five feet and only four feet high. Thousands of these were issued to households who were living in potential danger zones. And there we had to staysometimes as many as six adults as well as we two childrenuntil the welcome sound of the "All Clear."
By the time I was seven I was used to news of battles, of defeats and of victories. Knowledge of man's inhumanity to man became more real as the newspapers and radio hinted at unspeakable horrors perpetrated on the Jews of Europe and the cruelties of Hitler's Nazi regime. Although my own life was still filled with love and security, I was slowly becoming aware of another kind of world altogether, a harsh and bitter world of pain and death and human cruelty. And although we were among the luckiest, far away from the horror of massive bombings, nevertheless, signs of war were all around: Our own father, far away and in uniform, somewhere in the jungles of Singapore. Uncle Eric and Olly setting off on air-raid duty, out into the dark night when the air-raid warning sounded. Audrey working as a land girl. The blackout that dominated our lives every evening. The American soldiers with their tanks who occupied the road outside the Birches. One of them became a real friend, but then went off to the front with his regiment and was, like so many hundreds, killed.
Even we had one narrow escape. It was during the fourth summer of the war. Judy and I, with our best friends Sally and Susie, were spending a week's holiday a few miles along the coast where one could actually get onto the sand (England was prepared for a possible German invasion, so most of the coastline was barricaded by miles and miles of barbed wire). One day, as our mothers sat on the sand and we children played, Vanne suddenly decided to take a different route back to our little guest housea very long way around that meant we would miss lunch. But she was determined. Ten minutes after we set off, and as we were walking over some sand dunes, we heard the faint sound of a plane flying very high, heading south toward the sea. I can still remember, absolutely vividly, gazing up and seeing two tiny black objects, looking no bigger than cigars at that height, dropping from the plane into the blue, blue sky. German bombers often dumped their bombs along the coast if they had not managed to get rid of them on designated targets. It was safer when they met our planes on their way home. I can still remember the two mothers telling us to lie down, then trying to shield us with their bodies. I can still recall the terrifying explosions as the bombs hit the ground. And one of them made a deep crater halfway up the laneexactly where we would have been but for Vanne's premonition.
When the war finally ended in Europe on May 7, 1945, the grim rumors about the Nazi death camps were confirmed. The first photographs appeared in the newspapers. I was eleven years old at the time, very impressionable and imaginative. Although the family would like to have spared me the horrifying Holocaust pictures, I had never been prevented from reading the newspapers and they did not stop me then. Those photographs had a profound impact on my life. I could not erase the images of walking skeletons with their deep-sunk eyes, their faces almost expressionless. I struggled to comprehend the agony of body and mind these survivors had gone through, and that of all the hundreds of thousands who had perished. I still remember seeing, with shock, a photo of dead bodies piled on top of one another in a huge mound. That such things could happen made no sense. All the evil aspects of human nature had been given free rein, all the values I had been taughtthe values of kindness and decency and lovehad been disregarded. I can remember wondering if it was really truehow could human beings do such unspeakable things to other human beings? It made me think of the Spanish Inquisition, and all the medieval tortures that I had once read about. And the terrible suffering that had been inflicted on black slaves (I had once seen a picture of rows of Africans chained in the galleys, a brutal-looking overseer standing with an upraised whip in his hand). I began to wonder, for the first time, about the nature of God. If God was good and all powerful as I had been led to believe, how could He allow so many innocent people to suffer and die? Thus the Holocaust dramatically introduced me to the age-old problem of good and evil. This was not an abstract theological problem in 1945; it was a very real question that we had to face as the horror stories mounted.
I found that things were not as clear-cut as they once had seemed; that life was full of ambiguity and contradictions. The Holocaust.
What People are Saying About This
One of the ten most influential women ever.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees represents one of the Western world's greatest scientific achievements.
Your life has changed so much since those early days at Gombe, and your travel and speaking schedule sounds hectic. Do you miss that time, which I imagine was much more contemplative?
Those days were idyllic. It was paradise, actually. It was magic. But you know one has to pay back. I feel very strongly that I was so amazingly lucky to have that incredible opportunity. My job now is to save what I love. I seem to have a fairly strong voice and an ability to communicate with most people. And we have to get people's hearts involved.
In those early days of your field study, when you'd sit for weeks and months trying to make contact with the chimpanzees, what kept you going and believing that what you were doing would, in fact, lead to something valuable and important?
It wasn't so much that it would be valuable and important. My goal was to habituate the chimps and learn what they did. The first time I saw them using tools, I actually couldn't believe it. It was just so amazing. So, it wasn't that I hoped to make significant findings. It was that I had a job to do and the job was to get the chimps to stop being frightened of me so I could learn how they lived.
What is the political situation in Tanzania now? Does it prevent you from spending as much time as you'd like at Gombe?
The political situation in Tanzania has always been wonderful for us. The political situation, however, in Congo-Brazzaville, where we have our biggest chimpanzee sanctuary, is horrendous -- it's a civil war. There have been times when our amazingly brave project manager there has said it would be better that no one else comes [to the sanctuary] as it would draw attention to what's going on there. And it would be an extra burden of worry for her.
What's known as the "bush meat" trade -- the killing and butchering for sale of Africa's wild animals, some of which are rare and endangered –- is perceived by many people as being a result of human desperation for food.
That's completely and utterly wrong. The bush meat trade is commercial hunting -- hunters going from the city to the end of the logging trails, shooting everything, loading it on trucks and taking it to the city, where it fetches more money than domestic animal meat. Bush meat is a cultural preference, a delicacy. It's not used to feed starving people -- absolutely not.
What's the likelihood of being able to bring an end to the bush meat business?
The only hope is if we can mount a very high-powered government effort to end it, on the one hand, and then, on the ground [among the people], pursue a grass-roots education program. But we don't now have the money to do that very well and we haven't yet succeeded at getting high enough political support.
What about in the United States? I'd think you would be able to gain access to fairly high-level political figures here.
I can, and I feel really badly about this. If only all the conservation groups could somehow get together and work out very, very clearly, step by step, what this initiative would actually be, what it would look like, then I could approach these people. But as yet there is no clear understanding of what to ask them to do.
You see, it's an incredibly complex situation. It isn't just the hunters going out and shooting. Even the presidents of some of these countries actually send soldiers into national parks to shoot wild animals for their feasts. There's a lot of corruption and huge sums of money are involved -- I didn't realize that until quite recently. People are making enormous amounts of money from the bush meat trade. And there's even chimpanzee meat being sold as a delicacy at Congolese restaurants in Europe.
In Reason for Hope, you write, "Anyone who tries to improve the lives of animals invariably comes in for criticism from those who believe such efforts are misplaced in a world of suffering humanity." You must come up against that point of view quite frequently. How do you respond?
I hear it constantly. And, of course, there are various responses depending on the situation. One response is that once we're prepared to admit that animals have feelings and suffer, then if we're cruel to them -- for whatever reason -- it's demeaning and degrading to us as human beings. And we should share our compassion among feeling beings.
Also, there are so many people involved with the needs of suffering people, including us. I mean, we're not just worrying about the chimpanzees, we're also working with the local people and trying to improve the quality of their lives. And trying to explain to people -- in Africa at least -- that if the wildlife and the habitat disappears, that will lead to [the place becoming a] desert and then the people will suffer a hundred-fold more than they are already.
Also in Reason for Hope, in a chapter titled "The Roots of Evil," you tell in great detail of making the unpleasant discovery in the 1970s that the idea of the noble ape was as mythical as that of the noble savage. Chimps, like humans, you found, are capable of some rather ugly behavior -- including intercommunity attacks and even isolated instances of cannibalism. That must have been a tough realization to come to grips with.
It was a nightmare time in my life. The chimps [at Gombe] had become such familiar personalities. They weren't exactly friends, but it was close to that. And to suddenly find that these mostly gentle beings were capable of such horrendous brutality was a shock, a real shock. We accept that humans can be like that even though we don't like it. The sad part was to suddenly realize that the chimpanzees were more like us than I used to think.
Given the press of civilization and urban expansion, will large animals living in the wild become a thing of the past in the next century?
It depends. We have a window of opportunity to make change for the future, which I think we owe our children and grandchildren and their children. I feel terrible when I think of the world into which I was born 65 years ago and how we've damaged it in those 65 years.
If we can't find a way off leveling off human population -- and I think that's happening, I really do -- and if we can't find a way of lessening the overconsumption of the affluent societies -- and, again, I believe as our young people today grow up, that will happen, too -- then the horrifying question is: Do we have enough time or are we headed for disaster? A lot of people think we're headed for disaster and that's why I'm concentrating so much on developing this program for young people. They're the ones who are the hope for the future.
You're referring to the Roots & Shoots program?
Yes, it started in 1991 in Tanzania, came over to America at the end of 1993. In January of 1994 there were 11 registered groups in North America. Now there are well over 1,000 [in 50 countries]. And it's spreading so fast -- because I've finally got staff and a little money behind it and dedicated, enthusiastic teachers. It's suddenly taking off. It's very inspiring.
We just had our second summit for college and university students. And it was just so amazing to see these young people get together to tackle the question: How do we get the message out, to make the world around us a better place for animals, people and the environment? How do we get that message to our communities? And the ideas they came up with and their passion! That's what I see when I travel around like this.
One would assume, given that you and your work are so widely known at this point, that money must just flow into the Jane Goodall Institute.
False. It should. I don't know what we've done wrong. But we are about to start an endowment drive to keep our work going, especially the Africa program, and I'm sure it's going to be successful.
You mentioned the chimpanzee sanctuary in Congo and then there's the facility at Gombe in Tanzania. What's actually taking place at those two locations now?
At Gombe, the longest study of wild animal behavior in the world is continuing --monitoring the behavior of these individual chimpanzees that are so well-known and so well-studied, and bringing in a few people to do specialized studies of certain aspects of their behavior. A lot of the research is done by Tanzanians from surrounding villages, which is why we've had no poaching, because they're involved in the project. We study baboons there as well. We also have a big program to try to improve the lives of the people living in the villages around this tiny park, an island of forest surrounded by a huge [cleared] area. And that's working; they understand that we care about them as well as the chimpanzees.
That was an effort that you started almost at the beginning. Shortly after you arrived in Gombe four decades ago, your mother, who accompanied you, started a medical program for the local villagers.
That's right. She set up a little clinic. And we've always employed as many of the local people as we could and we've always tried to involve them with the chimps, and it's worked.
Now in Congo-Brazzaville we have a sanctuary built by the Conoco Oil company for about 25 chimps. We were very happy with Conoco because they had far and away the better environmental ethic than any of the other big oil companies who were exploring. And, amazingly, even after Conoco pulled out of Congo [after determining their oil operation was not going to be commercially viable] they left a team behind to complete the sanctuary. They did the right thing.
But that sanctuary, because of various situations around Congo, now has 71 chimps, which is just a nightmare. We can't release them because of the war, which has been simmering on and off for over three years. And it's much too crowded in the facility. We can't put them back in the wild; we've got wild chimps coming around. We can't get cement -- prices go up because the whole infrastructure of the country's been destroyed. We have to build new enclosures -- we must, it's dangerous now. So that's our nightmare program.
Then we have two sanctuaries which are more or less self-supporting: one in Uganda and one in Kenya. And we're starting one in South Africa.
Were you close at all with Dian Fossey when she was alive? I know you both knew Louis Leakey well.
Louis sent Dian Fossey to Gombe for a little while, to see how it was done. She resented that enormously. She just felt she knew how to do it on her own. Anyway, that was nothing to do with me, that was Louis. I saw her on and off over the years, quite often. We would discuss things. I tried so hard to persuade Dian to involve the local people in her project and she wouldn't.
And an adversarial situation developed between her and the local people in the area where she was studying the mountain gorillas?
Yes, that's why she died, I'm sure. She felt that if the Africans got close to the gorillas the way she was, the gorillas would then be more vulnerable to poachers. And I would say to her, "Our chimps know the difference between my field staff and strangers. I'm sure your gorillas would." Anyway, the poachers at that time were poaching for money. So, if she gave them jobs and they got to know what the gorillas were like, they'd love them, just like the Gombe field staff do with the chimps.
How have your relationships with chimps and other animals, and your understanding of them, affected your relationships with people?
I'm not sure I can answer that. What I know from working with animals is that we should show more respect for the amazing beings with which we share the planet. How working with them has affected my relationships with people ... I'm not sure that it has. How were you meaning?
I was just curious if the long time you've spent studying animals, and your insights into their behavior, have had any effect you can discern on your interactions with your family and friends?
What it may have done is that I do watch people; I like to watch body language and that kind of thing.
Do we share a certain amount of body language with chimps?
Oh, so much! I love to look for chimplike behavior in people just like I enjoy looking for humanlike behavior in chimps.
Your son lives in Tanzania. Is he involved in any of the activities at Gombe?
No, not a bit. He just doesn't like it.
That's just like a kid.
Yes, that's the way they are. But it's interesting. He's got two children now, my grandchildren; and his son, who's 7 -- I think it jumps a generation -- this little boy is passionate about animals. He's a fantastic boy.
Where will you be spending New Year's eve?
I'll be at home, in England. I call it home because I grew up there and my mother still lives there. I couldn't be anywhere except with her.
What's a good resolution for humanity as the new millennium approaches?
The most important thing we have to realize, if we really do want to save the planet for our great-grandchildren -- with a quality of life not too different from what we have today -- is that we've got to stop leaving the decisions up to the decision makers. We've got to become the decision makers. We've got to realize that what we do each day really does impact the world. For example, we can make ethical choices as to what we buy and don't buy. We can change business quicker than any kind of legislation. In a consumer-driven society, businesses aren't going to make things that people don't buy.
We've got to somehow stop thinking that because there are 6 billion people in the world, what we do can't make any difference. As education progresses around the world, which it really is, people are understanding what's dangerous to the environment. They understand what they should and shouldn't do. But we still have people thinking, "It doesn't matter what I do, it's just me." If we can change that thinking around, it will have an enormous impact.
Interview by Douglas Cruickshank, October 27, 1999. Copyright Salon Magazine, 1999. All rights reserved.
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Dr. Jane Goodall is best known for her pioneering research with chimpanzees in which she discovered that they share more traits with humans than previously realized. In this book, she shares her personal perspective on what her research means for human beings. This is a spiritual memoir, and it focuses on the battles between good and evil that occur. Dr. Goodall optimistically sees the potential for humans to do good as outweighing the potential for evil, and she relates her prescription for how each of us should seek to become more saint-like in order to heal the evil that has and is still being done every day to humans, animals, and the environment. While Dr. Goodall will probably never be thought of as a great prose writer, the testimony of her actions, emotions, heart, and thoughts is a powerful inspiration for all to find one's own special calling and to follow it. Reason for Hope has several rare qualities. First, it describes how Dr. Goodall's Christian faith is reconciled with her scientific beliefs. Few scientists do that in public, and both religious and nonreligious people will find the comments to be valuable. Second, she describes one of the most unusual reactions to the Holocaust that I have read. Much of her work with overcoming cruelty towards animals is inspired by seeing them as unwilling victims of zoo and animal research concentration camps. Third, she describes in moving detail the religious epiphanies she has experienced. Fourth, Dr. Goodall describes how she has balanced her personal and professional lives in a very vivid way, that connects to her chimpanzee research. Fifth, she takes what she has learned in her research and connects it to a prescription for humanity. In case you haven't been following her work recently, Dr. Goodall mostly campaigns now for animal rights and to obtain funds to permanently endow the continuation of her work at Gombe in Africa. She is on the road around 300 days a year doing that, and spends the remaining time writing books to publicize her ideas. Her view of animal rights will probably expand your own perceptions. Beyond pointing out the poor conditions applied to animals employed in research and food production, she also makes a persuasive case for how unnecessary pain, discomfort, and a lack of normal pleasantness are instilled on those animals. Basically, she points out that animals share the human qualities of benefiting from lack of pain, freedom to follow one's natural instincts, and receiving loving care. When we treat animals like inanimate objects, we dehumanize ourselves and operate below our spiritual potential to create natural harmony while inflicting real pain and suffering on the animals. Unlike many animal advocates who take extreme positions, she argues for making easily achievable progress towards eliminating abuses of animals as part of a longer path towards ending inhumane treatment of animals. She sees the potential for a future in which there is no animal testing and research and little use of animals for food. But we have to focus on that vision before it will happen. She is even more concerned about the ravages done to the Earth that affect humans and animals alike due to overpopulation, overexploitation of natural resources, and use of chemicals. I found the way she handled the spiritual challenges she faced to be the most interesting part of the book. Her second husband died unexpectedly of cancer. Four of her students were kidnapped at one point from Gombe. She visited two concentration camps. How can a living, loving God allow such evil? You will find her thoughts and experiences helpful with that fundamental question that we all face at various times. In many sections of the book, she shares brief poems that she wrote to describe her thoughts during her various spiritual challenges. I found those to be a helpful way to delve deeper into her heart and mind. Dr. Goodall is clearly a saint-like person in many ways. I am sure you
What can be said for a person who realizes their dream and follows it wherever it takes them. Jane read the Tarzan books as a child and fell in love with a continent and its animals. Jane Goodall followed her dreams to Africa where she met and then worked for Louis Leaky. It was not a matter of luck. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the tools of knowledge to do the job correctly. Her passion for animals became her spiritual journey and her growth followed a logical path. By studying the Chimpanzees she learned the mysteries of the relationships between God, man and the animals of our small planet.
Jane Goodall's book Reason for hope is amazing! She shares her feelings and passion for her chimps. It should speak out to everyone to help save these animals. Jane Goodall has dedicated her life to these animals to show us what we are losing. I think everyone should give a little to the enviroment to help save all these animals. I loved this book and i think other people will to.
I particularly liked the concept that good will win over evil.
Having the incredible fortune of recently meeting Dr. Goodall and hearing her speak, not lecture, about her passion and love, I was immediately reminded of Dr Albert Schweitzer's credo of "reverence for life." In this book, Dr. Goodall speaks openly from her heart of the spiritual lessons she has learned throughout her history-changing studies. But moreover, she speaks of the spiritual roots that took her to Africa , to the animals, and to the people in a prose that, having heard her speak, is intimate and conversational while still being insightful . This book allows the reader to sit alongside her and hear her reflections, both academic and spiritual, of her life-long devotion to animals and the lessons they bring to humans--if only we can understand.
Thoroughly enjoyed this easy read. Very insightful and entertaining for me as a spiritual person and an animal lover. She offers some interesting theories and ideas, as well as a look at her inner self apart from the Scientist.
I L.O.V.E this book. It has inspired me to reach for my dreams and it has changed the way i see others and the world
I am currently a sophomore in high school and I chose to read this book for my research project. Ever since I was a young girl, I have taken an interest in animals and their everyday lives. This was the first time I had ever heard of Jane Goodall, and I was immediately intrigued by her story. The book explains when she was a child she was curious of all animals and her family encouraged her to develop her passion for wildlife. Her family's support helped her to become the amazing primatologist she is today. From uncovering life-changing discoveries, to studying in Africa for 50 years, Jane Goodall is a prime example of hard work. She has dedicated her life to working with chimps and conserving their habitats. Throughout the book, Jane discusses how much of a connection she feels when she is with the chimps. I admire Jane Goodall because she became one of the first woman to travel Africa to educate herself on wildlife. Her independence has influenced me to become more independent myself, and to not depend on others because the only person who can achieve my goals is myself. Also, one day I hope to meet Jane Goodall or listen to her motivational speeches, because after reading her book, she has inspired me to dream big and accomplish everything I want to in life.
Another British author. Another book checked off the list. What a sad thing to say about a book, especially when the author says she has "laid bare a lot of my mind, heart, and soul" (p. 276). Being a good person doesn't mean one can express their life and motivations in an interesting manner. There are some gems here, mixed in with the pedantry and polemics. My God, so many chapters dragging us thru all the ways humans are destroying the world and harming animals. Well, since people are still doing it, I guess it needs to be said.Her stated reason for writing, tho, is to answer the question "where do you find hope?" And that, despite her rambling about the importance to her of Jesus, seems to be "from nature". Which is the same message now being promoted by Louv as the cure for Nature Deficit Disorder. I am glad for this message to be spread however it can. Additionally she finds that "Herein lies the real hope for our future--we are moving toward the ultimate destiny of our species--a state of compassion and love." (p. 251) She was stongly influenced by having lived through WWII, in Britain, and by what she heard about the horrors of the concentration camps. These are the horrors which forced her to ponder our humanity, and search out glimmers of hope.She does her best to show how evolutionary theory fits with Christianity. In some of the chapters it is apparent Goodall is disputing some other labels: Dawkins' selfish gene theory, Erikson's Pseudospeciation (which she relabels cultural speciation). With her discovery of tool use by chimpanzees, scientists have had to redefine what it means to be humans. Her definition seems to be that we are the language users. "the uniquely human ability to talk about that which is not present, share events of the distant past, plan for the far-off future, and, most important, discuss ideas, bouncing them back and forth to share the accumulated wisdom of an entire group...to aritculate feelings of awe, feelings that would lead to religious belief..." (p.188) Just as important, I feel, are her observations on parenting by chimpanzees, which meshes with what is experienced by humans. "a secure childhood was likely to lead to self-reliance and independence in adulthood while a disturbed early life might well result in an insecure adult...Mothers whe were...playful, affectionate, tolerant, and above all supportive, seemed to raise offspriing who, as adults, had good relaxed relationships with community members." (p.88-89)Goodall ends with a challenge for us to each "take responsibility for our own lives" because "Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference" (p.266)What are some other of the gems in this book? "How sad it would be...if we humans ultimately were to lose all sense of mystery, all sense of awe. If our left brains were utterly to dominate the right so that logic and reason triumphed over intuition and alienated us absolutely from our innermost being, from our hearts, our souls." (p.177)"That which is loved...can grow. We had to learn to understand and love this Spirit within in order to find peace within. And only then could we reach out beyond the narrow prison of our own lives..." (p.199)"We cannot live through a day without impacting the world around us--and we have a choice: What sort of impact do we want to make?" (p.242)This gem is a quote she used from Schweitzer: "A man who possesses a veneration of life will not simply say his prayers. He will throw himself into the battle to preserve life..." (p.251)
Goodall's autobiography focuses on her life and her faith journey and why she finds reasons for hope even in a world full of cruelty, violence, and environmental destruction. The first part of the book tells her life story and is a good compliment to Dale Peterson's biography as it is both more intimate and less detailed. In the latter chapters Goodall comments on various issues such as animals in medical research, the environment, and remarkable people she's met through her work. These parts can get didactic and cliched but overall this is a good book by a remarkable woman. Through a Window is better if you wish to learn more about Goodall and the chimpanzees of Gombe
A spiritually-bent woman whom has spent most of her life in the wild with chimpanzees speaks of her history and her current spiritual journey.
I am a high school sophomore and I read this book for a reasearch project. Since I was little I have been very interested in Jane Goodall and how she got to be where she is today. I have read many books about her, however this book by far gives the most detail on her life . The book explains how, when she was a child she was encouraged by her family to be into nature and learn about all animals. Which in my opinion might have helped her to become a true naturalist and a born scientist, which I found very interesting. I also felt as if I could picture exactly what she was talking about in the book because the way she described everything was in such detail. She tells first hand how she delt with every situation that came her way and how she overcame them. Especially the problems with her father,husbands , and her son. I definitely think she is a very strong woman for going through so many things and still having such a positive outlook on everything. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in Jane Goodall!
I'm a high school sophomore and I had a research project to do. My topic is Jane Goodall and I chose this book to read to get more information about her. I really liked this book because Jane put her life into detail and made it sound interesting at the same time. She starts off the book with her early life experiences and stories that she remembers so well. Jane then tells about her teen years and how she was able to go to Africa. From there she became so successful and Jane is still admired for her work today. In Africa, she observed chimpanzees for a few months and found lots of new information about them. This started the world's longest running research project and researchers are still finding out new things about chimpanzees. Jane noticed that sometimes the chimpanzees have a dark side but Jane always saw the good in them and in what they do. Jane not only views this in animals but in people too. She grew up in times of World War II and the Holocaust but she still overlooked what people did. Jane wants to try to make this world a better place little by little. She also wants to stop human or animal cruelty since the chimpanzees were used as experiments and their homes are being destroyed. Jane tries to make these issues known by speaking out and raising awareness about them. This book is inspirational and I would recommend anyone to read it. Jane Goodall inspires me to be like her and to make a difference in the world like she has.
I am a sophomore in high school and I read this book for my research project. I greatly enjoyed this biography Jane wrote. Jane is such an influential woman already and hearing her words on explaining her journey is truly inspiring. I love animals already and when I read what Jane believes and her ways of explaining why, she makes me love them even more but with a reason. Her descriptive language on her beliefs of these animals shock you and leave you with a smile on your face. Her relationship with the chimpanzees is absolutely incredible. I am moved by the way she writes her experiences with animals. The way she approaches them, befriends them and even gives them names shows how beautiful her relationship is with the Gombe chimpanzees. What makes the book interesting is her stories with her individual chimp friends. She really goes in depth with the stories of the chimps she meets and how their relationship strengthens. She shows respect and courage throughout her life with the chimps and her family. She is a role model to me and her biography applies the fact that we must do what we love. It is so inspirational how she was studying to be a secretary, dreaming that one day she can go to Africa, and she did! She accomplished her dreams and teaches us today to never give up on ours.
I am a high school sophomore and i chose to read this book for my project. I liked this book very much though it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would basically be about chimpanzees and Jane Goodall’s interaction with these apes. Surprisingly, this book was so much more than that. I was only vaguely aware of Jane Goodall and her research work with the chimpanzees. Reason For Hope began with the childhood of a little girl who loved animals and being outside more than in. Born in England, in the 30’s, she became aware of the horrors of war at much too early an age. This love for animals, particularly chimpanzees, and hatred for war would impact her whole life. What I like so much about the book was finding out how the work with the chimps, that she began in her mid 20’s, would go on to consume her whole life. What I’ve gotten from this book is that she has devoted her life to humans, animals and saving the planet. She feels that there is still hope we can make things better if we all work together and, after reading this, book I do too.
When this reviewer was an undergraduate anthropology major in the CUNY system (perfect prerequisite for reviewing novels), Jane Goodall was already a legend. Now three decades later, Goodall has become so renowned she seems more like an Olympus goddess visiting us mortals. REASON FOR HOPE A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY is Ms. Goodall¿s reflective look back on her life through the events and relationships that led to her spiritual awakening. Although well written and very insightful, the ¿autobiography¿ is for the purists because of a high cost and that PBS has presented a show based on the book. Still, the book is easy to read and provides fascinating insight into a scientist who has to be considered one of the great people of the last fifty years. Did she make Biography¿s list of the twentieth century notables? If not Ms. Goodall should have as this book and her other works prove beyond a shadow of a doubt they should have, but then again I remain prejudiced. Harriet Klausner
I love you jane you made my mine blowen away and what you did was amazing and I would go with you if Icould cause I think you are powerful and cares and loves everyone but thanks for telling us how to treat animals.