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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 will find it interesting to see what her formative influences were. Some seem to have been instinctive. My favorite story in the book involved how her nanny taught her to be afraid of dragonflies when she was around one, and her child's horror both of them and even greater horror at seeing one killed.
I also admired her for sharing stories of ESP and other phenomena that scientists are not supposed to experience or describe neutrally without proof. Basically, Dr. Goodall looks around and sees the best in whatever she observes.
You will be touched, if you are like me, by how she looks into the eyes of animals and humans to discern how they are feeling. What a warm heart she must have!
After you finish this book, I encourage you to jot down your thoughts about what your spiritual purposes are. What are your spiritual instincts? How do you like to help? How can you do more?
Follow the shining path God places before you!
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am 30. Januar 2000
Having followed Dr. Goodall's work for many years, I was intrigued by her offer to share much more than her autobiography - the gentle beauty of her soul. This book reveals a truly compassionate and elegant heart. I believe that if, as I am, you are interested in the evolution of spiritual life, Reason for Hope is wonderful nourishment for your heart.
am 29. März 2000
Jane Goodall reaches out to all who care for the earth and living things. Those involved in nature causes know the phenomenon of seeing so much irreparable wrong that life and effort begin to seem futile. Here is a book with at least a temporary antidote for depair. Goodall is not and does not pretend to be a great prose stylist. Maybe the simple straightforward words serve to advance her points. Her frank examination of a lifetime of ideas about spirituality is lit with sincerity, courage, and a willingness to share her most beautiful and moving moments. We return to the old question: what is spiritual, really? Does it have to do with churches or with moments of beauty and love given to us in nature and with those near to our hearts? She is not a Pollyanna, however, and shares with us enough of the dark of human behavior and the modern world to let us know she sees the same world we do. Thus, when she goes on to assert her belief in hope and the worth of continuing to act toward a better world, we have to listen and try in our hearts whether, even in the face of what we know to be true, we cannot learn again to believe. Most movingly, she admits that in accepting the imperative to do what she can to make a difference, she has had to give up the precious golden hours she once spent with the chimps. Even after her beautiful descriptions of those early magical times, we can only glimpse the poignant loss that this must be for her. Herein is the example set for all those of us who have had those moving and holy moments with nature: that from those to whom much has been given, much is to be expected. Only we have the certainty and experience it takes to stand in the face of apparent futility and fight, even though we might prefer to hide in the woods until they're all cut down. Were we given these blessings because we deserve them, or because we might then want to pass them on to those who come after? Jane Goodall has taken the noble path of love and compassion.
am 29. November 1999
In this rich and rewarding autobiographical journey - from infant to wizened woman in her sixth decade - Jane Goodall shares her life-defining experiences including her mentorship by Louis Leakey, the observations of chimpanzees that made her famous, and her significant relationships. The reader is right there with her through learning experiences and personal struggles and may be surprised to know about the difficulties and sacrifices even the lucky, gifted and famous have to make. Jane Goodall frequently calls on her grandmother's favorite scripture for comfort in inclement times, "as thy days, so shall thy strength be." Goodall's accounts and insightful realizations give courage and perspective for dealing with the hardship and obstacles in our own lives.
One of the things I value most about this book is that Goodall addresses ethical and spiritual dimensions of science and conservation. Most scientists do not publicly discuss these larger ethical dilemmas or they sometimes engage in them but lose perspective in balancing human needs with those of other living creatures. Jane Goodall is not only willing and able to discuss these complex dimensions, but the outcome is helpful and thought-provoking.
If I were a professor in any of the sciences (esp. biology, genetics, and environmental studies) or ethics, I would leap at the opportunity to make this required reading. In her broad and clear way, Jane Goodall touches on many of the key issues and interrelations that scientists (budding or established) need to be aware of but will not find in a science textbook. We, as students and concerned individuals, need to know about the Jane Goodalls, Rosalind Franklins, and Einsteins in addition to the Watsons and Cricks so we can visualize the full range of options for how we live and the kind of science we do.
Some people have been lucky enough to know all along that they can have both their science and their religion (in some religions, the harmony of science and religion are explicit, such as in the Baha'i Faith), their compassion and a keen desire for intellectual investigation, scientific research and problem solving. Goodall is one of these people, and it is wonderful to have a respected thinker like her showing that the two seemingly dichotomous realities can blend harmoniously and that it is not always inappropriate for a scientist to also be civically active. Of course, some level of detachment and impartiality must be maintained in scientific research, but this other element of human compassion and civic responsibility needs to be increasingly recognized, emphasized, and cultivated.
While Goodall's periodic discussions of spirituality and ethics may seem unusual subject matter for many traditional science environments, scientists and students will appreciate the opportunity this book offers to broach these subjects in a planned and meaningful way. There is something unthreatening and inclusive in the way Goodall finds value in religious traditions beyond her own, and this feature makes "Reason for Hope" an especially good candidate for required reading in academia. In contrast to books like "The Double Helix," Goodall's sensitivity and same-era research into another genetics-related area provide a needed counterpoint to the attitudes of competition and exclusion that characterized the discovery of DNA. Different models of scientific exploration, different kinds of scientist. Both will be encountered, and both are important to know about.
Readers of all ages can find a hero and a role model in Jane Goodall. Her books for young adults and children have inspired me even as a 23 year old, and I have since given copies of "My Life with the Chimpanzees" as gifts to children as young as 9. Jane Goodall is a remarkable human being with heart, compassion, strong communication skills, and unflagging commitment to chimp research, improving the lot of humans, animals, and all of the life on our planet. The vision and persistence she lends to those tasks are making a wide impact, not only on Westerners, but also on African children and communities at multiple socio-economic levels. People who are working to make a difference are among Goodall's "reasons for hope," the sincere, caring and visionary Yous and Mes of all countries and backgrounds.
Goodall's fresh perspectives illumine things I already knew about and reveal many things I did not know before. Her beautiful command of the English language, vivid descriptions and compelling viewpoints will appeal to the artist, nature-lover, and poet and her sincere spirit speaks poignantly to further engage and delight the rest of us. Female scientists and concerned citizens will be among the most appreciative audience.
I read "Reason for Hope" in one long sitting -- only interrupted by dinner on this Thanksgiving eve. It felt as though Jane Goodall had taken the time to have a powerful, absorbing, and stimulating conversation with me the reader. I say conversation because going with her on her life's journey caused me to reflect simultaneously on my own. She realized her most cherished childhood dreams. Can we all? For Jane Goodall's gift of time and energy, I feel honored and grateful. She has this effect, and because of this valuable "conversation," I feel more dedicated to my own path of service to humanity. I highly recommend this book to anyone.
By the way ... don't miss the breathtaking color photograph on the inside front cover!
am 17. September 1999
Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, by Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman, Warner Books, 1999, New York. by Marc Bekoff Reason for Hope is an amazing book by a most-amazing woman. Jane Goodall's autobiography is easy to read and will appeal to people of all ages. She writes about highly personal issues and reflects on science, religion, and spirituality. Goodall is clearly a "Jane of all trades and master of many." She wears many hats and she wears them well. Goodall is a naturalist at heart, can do multivariate statistics, write about God and spirituality, be a faithful and committed mother and wife, and find time tirelessly to share her experiences world-wide. There is so much between its covers that one can only offer a glimpse of the numerous topics that are considered in Reason for Hope. This very personal book touches on diverse issues ranging from practical matters we all face daily to more philosophical questions concerning the meaning of life and spirituality. We learn about the events in Goodall's development that led to her views of the world, the incredible importance of family and friends, her work with Louis Leakey (her incredulity when he chose her to begin studies of chimpanzees although, and perhaps because, she had no formal training and no degree), field studies of chimpanzee behavior, conservation biology, environmental ethics, evolution and its relationship to creationism, cultural evolution, the agonizing death of Goodall's husband, Derek, the ins and outs of how much science is done behind the scenes, science and politics, and how so many scientists shy away from confronting the ethical issues that are raised by "doing science." Goodall also learned that naming animals and describing their personalities (I think that "animalities" might have been more acceptable terms) was taboo in science, but because she had not been to university she did not know this. She "thought it was silly and paid no attention." In an interesting story, Goodall notes how fortunate she was when her mother, Vanne, found she had taken a whole handful of worms to bed at 10 months old she did not throw them out, but quietly told Jane they would die without earth, so she toddled with them back into the little garden outside their London apartment. In many ways Vanne is no less amazing than her daughter. In her mid-fifties, Vanne joined Jane on her initial journey into the wilds, leaving for five months a nice peaceful existence in England. Goodall also relates how her novel observations of tool-use in chimpanzees, which were responsible for redefining what is it to be human ("Man the toolmaker" no longer was tenable, tool use did not separate humans from other animals), were looked upon with skepticism by people who thought she was untrained to do the work she was doing, many of whom had never left their ivory tower or seen a wild animal. Photographs of tool use subsequently squelched their concerns. Goodall also ponders evil, warfare, love, and hope, and writes about such notions as reincarnation and the meaning of time and space. She also wonders if she should have brought a child into what many call a hopeless world. Goodall fearlessly discusses how science, intuition, religion, and spirituality merge. Few scientists ever attempt to walk in fields in which she strolls comfortably. Goodall claims, rightfully, that "Science does not have the appropriate tools for the dissection of the spirit." But perhaps changing our views of science will help us along. Goodall is also an accomplished poet and sprinkles some of her works throughout. Goodall also espouses how words, used as labels, can lessen an experience, make it too rational. She notes "Words are part of our rational selves, and to abandon them for a while is to give freer reign to our intuitive selves" What is so appealing about this book is that Goodall does not profess to be an expert in such matters of time and space or in such areas as moral philosophy and religion. Rather, she shows how questions that seem so irrelevant to many scientists are, in fact, highly relevant to the way they go about their business. And, a message that comes out loudly and clearly throughout is that after all is said and done, Goodall is a human being before all, a mortal made of flesh and blood. Just like all us, Goodall can cry, laugh uncontrollably, and most importantly, laugh at herself. So, what are Goodall's reasons for (3) the energy and enthusiasm that is found or can be kindled among young worldwide; and (4) the indomitable human spirit. Everybody can make a difference, and it is the little things we do for others that count so much. Goodall obviously loves what she does. She enters her standing-room-only lectures carrying her stuffed animal buddy Mr. H and begins by emitting a walloping pant-hoot. People laugh and then relax. Goodall then begins quietly to talk about her work and the world at large. Her audience is eerily silent. Goodall speaks softly with confidence, but carries a big stick. She also is light and sprinkles serious discourse with down-home humor. Goodall is not a quitter. Most people expected her to leave her difficult and dangerous field work after a few weeks, but she is now entering her fortieth year of research! She is unrelenting in carrying messages of hope across the planet. Just as she stills her audiences so will this book still you. There is no better model for us to follow as we head into the millennium and beyond. Reason for Hope is one of the most important books of the century. Marc Bekoff teaches in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology at CU-Boulder. He is editor of Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, for which Dr. Goodall wrote the Foreword
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am 24. März 2000
This book touched my life in a profund way-- Goodall's philosophy of life is so gentle and compassionate, that one cannot help but be truly moved by her work. If you read no other book this year, please let it be this one. Mixing her autobiography with her unique and gentle outlook on life and spirituality, this book will insipre all who read it in amazing ways.
am 20. Mai 2000
This is a wonderful, affirming book in which we get to glimpse the "inner workings" and personal life reflections of a scientist. Sit back and experience Jane Goodall's spiritual struggles over the decades, how her love of animals was affirmed and nurtured, and her courageous obstinancy not to be a "cookie cutter" researcher, stuck in someone else's idea of proper science. There were only two reasons why this book did not get 5 stars. One is a small but glaring error, when she refers to one of the most famous behavioral scientists, psychologist Albert Bandura, as the "psychiatrist Robert Bindora"; this is glaring given the importance of Bandura's research on vicarious learning of violence, and that both were contemporaries at Stanford. The other reason was how the style rambled on occasion, especially describing the nature of "evilness," which otherwise detracted from a wonderfully written personal narrative. If your thoughts are not derailed temporarily when you reach these minor concerns, you will thoroughly love this work.
am 16. November 1999
What I mean by my title is that it is very interesting that this year has brought out a spate of books in which great "men" (generic, includes women) reflect on their lives and their lives in science. We have Nabokov's Blues telling of the scientific odyssey of a great artist and now Dr. Goodall also revealing her inner most self when it comes to the deeper parts of her own larger journey. Perhaps it is the millenial bug? There are so many sides to this book and each of them is quite riveting. Like the other books of this genre, it is so important that we know the other side, the "whole" side, of personages who have influenced science or art. Its easier to understand now why such "celebrities" often go to the trouble to write down and make permanent their deeper thoughts, and angles of themselves moving outside of their "fields"-- because they seem to know what we all hunger for these kinds of insights, and they are the ones to give them to us.
am 25. November 1999
Dr. Goodall, who is one of the giants of our age, writes a book which sounds a bit like she is trying to convince herself there is hope that chimpanzees, wildlife and life itself will survive.
I work in the area of dolphin and whale intelligence and was surprised at her statement that mankind is the only animal who can describe objects which are not present. Experiments with dolphins certainly indicate they can do that.
To me a stronger arguement that there is hope comes from the book "The Long Boom" which lays out a plausible scenario that the ongoing economic expansion, coupled with technology, will enable us to avoid the destruction of our planet - something which is imminent unless we take drastic action to avoid it.
Dr. Goodall's final chapters are a challenging and moving exhortation to each of us to participate in this most exciting of challenges - to restore our planet to the condition in which God delivered it to us.
am 23. März 2000
Having long been a fan of Jane Goodall, I was anxious to read her latest book. I was not diappointed. I think in this book we are given a glimpse of the real person behind the National Geographic glossy photos, the real person behind her beloved chimpanzees...the real Jane Goodall who turns out to be much like the rest of us, but who found herself in the right place at the right time with the right people and opportunities. I was touched by her relationship with her mother, her honesty about her failed marriage...her obvious joy in her son and his family. This book should inspire each of us to look at our world and its problems and find something within our own space that we can change for the better.
What a beautiful book..