Frankly, I’m a bit conflicted with this book. But damnit, Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams took the time to complete the interviews, write up the transcripts and publish this thing so I figured, okay, why not? Hope. Geez, don’t get me started. For YEARS, I’ve been writing and talking about hope as the spark that could change the world. I’ve always felt that al Qaeda missed the boat on this little idea. Unite Morocco to Pakistan with the idea of “Hope” and you will have your empire. War is a short-play in a world only survivable with a long-play.
Jane Goodall needs no introduction, at least by the likes of puny me. I managed to anger a Howler monkey once, and I made a great ape face as a kid, but that is the extent of my knowledge of primates. Heck, I can barely understand my fellow humans.
Dr. Goodall is best known for her study of chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, a global conservation, advocacy, animal welfare, research, and youth empowerment organization, including her global Roots & Shoots program. And yes, she’s done a hundred other things making the rest of us look and feel like the schlubs we actually are.
Goodall, it turns out, is a hopeful human being and has a structure around why she feels we should remain hopeful in a world that seems bent on destroying itself. Abrams and Goodall sat down in various locations around the world, recording long-form conversations that ended in “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times.”
And here is where my realism ruins the day. I do agree that hope is a key element in the survival of our species. But we must also deal with the reality that our species just might have a built in element of self-destruction and all data points to a dramatic ending. I don’t have hope our leaders will do right. I don’t have hope we can organize globally, and I don’t have hope the youth of the world can right the ship. We are at the edge of a new darkness and our headlamp batteries just died. And for this reason, this book is worth the investment. Balance, counterbalance and nails on the chalkboard of life all go well together.
Maybe hope is a good path. The problem is, it doesn’t often pay off on the large scale. So then, people, especially young ones, get all nihilistic and cynical. But I’ve been thinking about despair lately. (A LOT).Despair has a lot of levels to it. It doesn’t have to be passive, or resigned. It can bring clarity. It can add an edge. I have, in fact, come to believe there’s a point where you say, we’re screwed, but so what? We need to continue doing what we consider correct and right, even without hope.
I’m not sure we have a choice. They say great work is made under duress, but I think the path TO that duress is the key. If you are a kid in a third world country who is under the gun with limited options then duress can be stifling. Same applies for someone in the states coming from extreme poverty. But those with options who find duress, well, that is another matter. Personally, I don’t see any chance of us saving the planet. There just isn’t enough money in it and those in power today will be dead before it gets really bad.