I'm not quite sure what I expected to see or hear when I went to the lecture tonight. I knew of Dr. Goodall's legendary work with chimpanzees, but I was totally unprepared to see this petite little woman of nearly 80 enthrall a sold-out audience (with two additional simulcasts on campus) for nearly two hours. She quietly went about recounting her early childhood, beginning with a close encounter with earthworms at the tender age of 18 months! She gave homage to her mother, who rather than scolding her for having earthworms in her bed as a toddler, helped her get the tiny creatures back outside to the earth that nurtured them.
Dr. Goodall gave us a great picture of the behavior of chimpanzees, including her favorites in the Gombe Stream area of Tanzania, but she also talked about her hope for our world. She's been traveling as an activist since 1986, spreading her message to anyone who'll listen. She talked a lot about connecting our heads (intellect) and our hearts. To help accomplish this, she established the Roots and Shoots global network to help young people get involved in making the world a better place.
I was impressed by her common sense approach to animal and environmental activism. When she took questions from the audience, she was careful to let us know that humans should respect chimpanzees and allow them to live in their own world. She never attempted to make them "her family," but observed them from a distance and learned their behaviors. She cautioned that humans should never buy baby chimps, attempting to turn them into pets. She reminded us all that they are, in fact, wild animals - and they will always be so. Chimpanzees are much like humans in that they are able to show compassion, but they are also able to show great anger and aggression.
How wonderful for Dr. Goodall that she has been able to travel around the world sharing her message of hope into her old age (although in many respects I think she's younger than I am). I hope she is able to continue this work for many years to come. It was a privilege to be able to see her.
And so I close for the night, tired, but wondering what I might do tomorrow to go and improve the world. One person can do it, you know!
Thanks for stopping by - and I hope you come my way again. May God bless!