Kids, I have just finished this book, which was such a satisfying read, I am sorry it ended. Of course, I loved Jane's story of being a child in love with nature. Below she is shown with Jubilee, the stuffed chimpanzee whom she fell in love with on sight at eighteen months -- a sort of prophecy of the life that would follow:)
And of course I loved her stories about living in Africa with the chimpanzees, and all she learned about them. Her sadness at the death of her husband, from cancer, when they had only had a few years together.
But it is her spirituality, and her hope, woven all the way through this book, that really spoke to me. And her belief that, if each person makes changes, and we all try together, we can have an impact on the world, hopefully in time.
Jane travels 300 days a year, carrying her message of hope, trying to inspire kids, especially, to care about the earth and believe they can make a difference. I so admire the dedication she has shown, spending her entire life in the cause of compassionate treatment of animals, respect for the rights of other species, conservation and education.
Jane writes about visiting the chimp JoJo, held captive in a small cage with bars all around, alone, with only a rubber tire to sit on, nothing to play with or stimulate him. Imprisoned there for ten years, used for "medical research" in a laboratory in New York.
"I looked into his eyes. There was no hatred there, only a sort of gratitude because I had stopped to talk to him......JoJo's mother had been shot in Africa. Did he remember that life? I wondered. Did he sometimes dream of the great trees with the breeze rustling through the canopy, the birds singing, the comfort of his mother's arms?.........Not for him the freedom to choose each day....there was no comfort for him of soft forest floor or leafy nest, high in the treetops.....JoJo had lost his world long ago. Now he was in a world of our choosing, a world that was hard and cold and bleak......The shame I felt was because I was human.........."
Through Jane's work, some significant improvements have been made in facilities for animals used for medical purposes. JoJo, thankfully, was retired to a sanctuary in California, along with some of the other chimpanzees from that lab.
"We still have a long way to go," says Jane. "But we are moving in the right direction. If only we can overcome cruelty, to human and animal, with love and compassion, we shall stand at the threshold of a new era in human moral and spiritual evolution--and realize, at last our most unique quality: humanity."
Later in the book, addressing the planet's greatest problems, Jane expounds : "....this scenario is repeated again and again....: increased population growth, diminishing resources, and the destruction of nature, resulting in poverty and human suffering.
"Yes, we are destroying our planet. The forests are going, the soil is eroding, the water tables are drying, the deserts are increasing. There is famine, disease, poverty and ignorance. There is human cruelty, greed, jealousy, vindictiveness and corruption....there is crime, drugs, gang violence; thousands who are homeless......street children....ethnic conflicts, massacres, and broken peace treaties....There is organized crime, sale of arms.......international terrorism.....fanatical hate....billions of tons of synthetic chemicals.... have been heedlessly released into the environment.......
"All this would seem to suggest a hopeless millenium ahead......Yet despite this, I do have hope for the future--for our future. But only if changes are made in the way we live -- and made quickly. And these changes must be made by us, you and me. If we go on leaving it to others, shipwreck is inevitable.
"My reasons for hope are fourfold: the human brain; the resilience of nature; the energy and enthusiasm that is people worldwide; and the indomitable human spirit........Imagine: as more and more people around the world become aware of what is good and what is bad for the environment, and for society, this means there are thousands, then millions, then billions all thinking the same: 'It cant make any difference what I do--it's just me.' Think how it would be if we could turn that around -- thousands and millions and billions of people all knowing that what they do does make a difference.....If everyone demanded eggs from free ranging chickens, how quickly poultry farming would change! ...if the demand [for meat] were less, animals could be humanely farmed."
Jane writes about the people she meets as she goes around the world: the little girl who had saved up her pennies to give to Jane "to buy bananas for the orphaned chimpanzees"; the young man who went out on a fishing boat and was horrified at the dolphins who became trapped in the nets, who leaped into the ocean to rescue a baby dolphin and its mother who had looked pleadingly at him for help (he got fired, but now creates Endangered Species chocolate bars, donating 11.7 percent of the profit towards dolphin survival); an American zoo visitor who leaped into a moat around a male chimpanzee's enclosure to rescue him from drowning. "I looked into his eyes...And the message was: Wont anybody help me?"
Jane writes: "I truly believe that more and more people are seeing the appeal in the eyes around them, feeling it in their hearts, and throwing themselves into the battle. Herein lies the real hope for our future; we are moving toward the ultimate destiny of our species -- a state of compassion and love.
"Yes, I do have hope. I believe we can look forward to a world in which our great-grandchildren and their children after them can live in peace. A world in which there will still be trees and chimpanzees swinging through them, and blue sky and birds singing, and the drumbeats of indigenous peoples reminding us powerfully of our link to Mother Earth and the Great Spirit.......But...we dont have much time. The planet's resources are running out. And so if we truly care about the future of our planet, we must stop leaving it up to "them" out there to solve the problems. It is up to us to save the world for tomorrow: it's up to you and me."
Okay, Jane, if you have hope, I do, too.