Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall giving a chimpanzee greeting
State of the World Forum
San Francisco, California, October 1995.
photo by Jesse Goff

I have admired Jane Goodall ever since I first read her description of life with chimpanzees in Africa. When I heard she was speaking in my part of the world, I took myself and my daughter to hear her speak. When she walked into the auditorium, everyone in the place rose to their feet in one fluid motion and began to applaud her. We applauded her for a good 10 minutes. I had tears in my eyes. I think some of this deep admiration is for her work bridging the gap between our species. She is one of those rare humans who has worked at that edge tirelessly, for years now.

Recently I attended a gathering in San Francisco initiated by Michail Gorbachev called the State of the World forum. Jane Goodall was one of the participants in the forum, making her clear call for awareness and concern for the chimpanzee community. The last night of the forum, after the dinner and talk by Oscar Arias, as I got up from my table, I spotted Jane standing alone at a table across the room. In a split second a voice in my head said This may be the only opportunity you are going to have in life to speak to Jane Goodall. Get yourself over there NOW. So I made a straight line for her.

By the time I reached her, two other people had gathered to speak with her. I waited quietly. When it was my turn, I introduced myself. I told her I had heard her talk recently in Berkeley, California and that I was interested in helping her to use the internet to share her environmental program for young people called Roots and Shoots.

While we were talking, my daughter and her father came to join us in conversation. I introduced them and said Jane is centered in Connecticut. (I had made this assumption because the card she had given me had Connecticut as her US base of operations.) Jane very quickly responded I'm not centered anywhere. In the last 10 years I have not stayed anywhere longer than 3 weeks. I bowed to her in deep awe immediately and my daughter asked her How do you do it?

Peace, she answered.

Oh, the travel brings you peace?asked my daughter.

No, it's exactly the opposite. Inner peace lets me travel.

A wisdom teaching passed from one generation to another...


Roots and Shoots logo

"Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light they can break through brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds and thousands of roots and shoots, hundreds and thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. You CAN change the world." - Jane Goodall

For more information on Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots program for children, visit the Jane Goodall Institute web site and click on Roots and Shoots.

"There is only a two percent genetic difference between humans and Great Apes." Gary Richardson, WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals)