The One With Hope

 

A really bad photo of Dr. Jane and me.

A really bad photo of Dr. Jane and me.

Dr. Jane Goodall and I met in 2008 at a lecture in Manhattan. I was as giddy as a schoolgirl. I’m a fan of Dr. Jane for many reasons — her determination and courage, chief among them.

In 1960,  26-year-old Jane Goodall was hiking to her vantage point on a peak in Tanzania. She had been sent to this remote area known as Gombe by archaeologist Louis Leakey to study a group of wild chimpanzees. Jane had been there for weeks, long enough to recognize some of the chimpanzees, but they hadn’t allowed her to get very close. Then she spotted the chimp she’d named David Greybeard. During the lecture, she told this story:

 

“This was a wonderful situation when right in the early days, I was following David Greybeard. And I thought I’d lost dr. jane goodall and baby chimphim in a tangle of undergrowth. I found him sitting as though he was waiting, maybe he was. He was on his own. And I picked up this red nut and held it out on my palm. He turned his face away. So, I held my palm closer, and then he turned; he looked directly into my eyes. He reached out. He took it, but he didn’t want it. He dropped it. But at the same time, he very gently squeezed my fingers, which is how a chimp reassures. So, there was this communication. He understood that I was acting in good faith. He didn’t want [the nut], but he wanted to reassure me that he understood. So, we understood each other without the use of words.”

 

Jane is now on the road 300 days of the year talking about the plight of the chimpanzees (only about 150,000 are left in the wild, compared to about 2 million in 1900), animal welfare and environmental conservation — topics that could certainly lead one to despair. Yet her unwavering optimism is contagious, and another one of the reasons I admire her.  “It is these undeniable qualities of human love and compassion and self-sacrifice that give me hope for the future.,” she says.

Another woman I know who has an incredible reservoir of hope is Joy Southard. Joy has a big job. She travels around Texas to tell kids of all ages that they matter and that they have the power within them to follow their own path. And (here’s the best part) she uses rescue dogs to do it.

Joy is the director of Healing Species of Texas, a compassion education program taught with the assistance of rescue dogs.  These dogs have stories of abuse and neglect and are the living example to children of how to approach life issues with courage, empathy, integrity and self worth. Joy doesn’t shy away from the dogs’ sad stories. By honestly telling what happened to the dogs, the kids can find understanding, respect and, most of all, hope. The dogs made it through, and they can, too.

One of the school programs Joy organizes is called Dogs of Character. It’s an assembly presentation of three dogs and parallels their stories to a child’s experience. “We compare the feelings of a new dog at the dog park to that of a new kid on the playground.  We bring a dog who has the physical signs of abuse, perhaps he has lost his leg due to cruelty, for our older kids to address bullying.  We bring dogs who have amazing loyalty to each other yet are characteristically very different to teach diversity and tolerance,” Joy says.

 

 

Joy has many great stories from her work so I asked her to share one.

“One of my favorite stories was a class of kids in a juvenile detention center.  We teach the quote by Albert Schweitzer, ‘Until man extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, he himself will not find peace.’  In this lesson a young boy went up to our board and drew a stick figure with a sad face inside a circle.  He explained that he is putting this boy, who he had bullied for most of the year, in his “circle of compassion.”  His sad face indicated his tears.  He told us he was going to apologize to this boy and keep him safe from others who would bully him. That was pretty meaningful to us because we later learned how our student kept his word and was ridiculed for sticking up for the kid who was a target.

“We teach that strength comes from advocacy.  When our students finish Healing Species they know they have the tools to practice being important to someone or something.  Due to this boy’s felony charges that got him into juvenile detention, he was not given many chances to lead anything at school when he returned.  We work very hard to give these kids chances to feel needed.  They are definitely needed to help us change how animals are treated!  They are also needed to change how we treat each other.  One doesn’t have to be crowned homecoming king or elected student class president to change the world for the better.”

Highlighting the work of Dr. Jane Goodall and Joy is the perfect way to close out Women’s History Month. I think these women embody many of the same traits as the others  featured this month, most importantly hope and compassion.  Changing your piece of the world requires hope and without it, compassion is hard to come by.

What are some things you’re hopeful about these days? 

 

________________________________________________________________________

April 3 is Dr. Jane Goodall’s 80th birthday. Happy Birthday, Jane! 

On Wednesday, my blog was Freshly Pressed! I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the positive response to the post. A warm welcome to all new followers! 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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35 comments

  1. Lovely post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! How did I miss that? That is an amazing honor and you are well deserving of it! I loved this post about the strength of these women you highlighted. As for things that I am hopeful about? I am hopeful that spring will come …and stay. It’s been a long winter.

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      1. Yay! Maybe they are crocus??? Those are the first things that I think of when I think of spring and flowers popping up! Whatever they are they are welcome!

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  2. Ok, so I’m going to confess this here, but if I get flamed you have to delete my humiliation, okay? Apparently, for years, I’ve had Jane Goodall mixed up with Dian Fossey. I thought Dr. Goodall was dead and had been for years. Thank you for this post, if nothing else for giving me Dr. Goodall back. How in the world have I gone so long without getting that sorted out?

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    1. Oh, you’re not alone! I think many people confuse Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall. There are so many similarities: Africa, primates, women. I’m glad that Dr. Goodall is back among the living for you. 🙂

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      1. I want to find her, High-5 her, and say, “I’m so glad you’re alive.” That wouldn’t be awkward at all….

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      2. No..not awkward at all, especially since, when I met her at that lecture, I was so in awe that I said something like, “I like your ponytail.”
        I wish I was making that up.

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  3. I’m SO happy to hear you were Freshly Pressed. I don’t know how I missed that, but congratulations. YOU SO DESERVE the honor! And this post is a perfect way to end Women’s History Month, Jackie. Love the photo of Dr. Jane and the baby chimp. Precious story!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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  4. What wonderful inspiring stories! Thanks for sharing them. I also think we should take note that we should extend compassion not only to victims but also to ourselves. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, which creates misery for us personally and those who love us. –Patti

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  5. I love how you summed up the lessons of these two great women with your last line.

    I’ve recently found the value of hope, because I happily discovered I’d been all wrong about what hope felt like. I’m off and running!

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  6. I love both of these stories, Jackie. I am well aware of Jane but Joy is new to me. Thanks for putting her on my radar. I am very glad that your Triangle Shirtwaist post got FP’ed. Your posts, even when about tragedy or hardship, always offer a ray of hope. I’m hopeful about pro-active women with J-based first names, so keep writing these great stories.

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    1. Joy is one of my favorite people on the planet. True, I haven’t met most of the people on the planet, but I’m sure that if I did, Joy would still be one of my favorites.

      Thanks again for the FP shout-out. It’s been a trippy ride for the past few days! 🙂

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  7. I was at U.of M in 1968 studying Jane and her monkey biz.and now I’m am old artist advocating for Lucy.the elephant held captive at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. She has been alone for over 30 years and is so depressed she holds her own tail, This is a true tale of greed and deceit. She needs 4600 signatures for a second opinion to see if she is well enuff to go.to the Sanctuary. Maybe you could help. I did some paintings of Lucy , your kids would like as I planned her escape. I wish I had your strength as I sit and cry for this terrible inhuman treatment of a loving creature who can’t speak for herself..I know this is rude but please you can get the petition at barbaragreenemannandlucy.wp.com Thanks Jackie.

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  8. So inspiring. I am a huge fan of Jane’s as well (I lived part of my childhood in East Africa and was very close to where she worked…incredible woman and important work). The story of Joy’s work is incredible as well. Often our society can be so child hostile, and people who work to change that are my heroes. I love this: “Changing your piece of the world requires hope and without it, compassion is hard to come by.” You asked what I’m hopeful about these days… reading compassionate posts like these make me hopeful and happy and encourage me to go a little outside myself to be kind to others — thank you 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Julia! Many people are already familiar with Jane and her work, so this post was a great opportunity to introduce readers to the work that Joy is doing. It means so much to me that you feel encouraged and inspired by this post — that encourages and inspires me!

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  9. Great story about Jane, David Greybeard, and the nut. Animals can be so eloquent. We truly underestimate them, I think. Human hubris blinds us to their sometimes superior, or at the least equal, ability to comprehend and think. I sometimes wonder what my dog thinks of me, with his ability to smell so much more than me, and to hear (or perhaps intuit?) my husband returning home from work well in advance of his arrival. Does he feel sorry for me, and my puny human capabilities? Maybe not, since I have thumbs, and can open the fridge, but who knows?

    Can hardly believe she is turning 80. What a fabulous, brave woman!

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    1. I agree, Cynthia! Animals have incredible intelligence in ways that we humans don’t. For example, I live in an apartment building and Reggie can tell (by smell, I assume) the people who belong on our floor and the people who don’t. He seems to sniff at the bottom of our front door. If the person on the other side doesn’t “belong” they get a little growl, and if the person on the other side lives on our floor, they get a tail wag. It absolutely amazes me every time.

      I’m sure Reggie appreciates my opposable thumbs though — helps with getting his treat bags open. 🙂

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  10. Jane is one of those people that is just amazing. Not just her life experiences but her passion to teach and raise awareness. Thanks for the introduction to Joy. What a great program for both children and dogs. My animals teach me how to love and respect others every day.

    Congrats on being FPd!

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    1. We can learn so much from animals if we pay attention. Kids can learn this from an early age. That’s one reasonI love the Healing Species and Dogs of Character programs. Now if we only had programs like this for adults. 🙂

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  11. Another really moving post. Jane Goodall has always been one of my heroes- how wonderful to have met her in person! At the hospital where I work we have recently brought in a therapy dog. She is a golden retriever named Hannah and it is truly moving to see how people (patients and employees alike) react to her presence. The whole atmosphere changes. Faces light up. Everyone stops what they’re doing and just for a few minutes we’re all just in the joyful moment with Hannah. Sometimes I wonder why animals have this effect on us, but so true that they can bring about a deep healing that all the pills and technology can’t. Congrats on the FP!

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    1. It must be such a rewarding part of your day to see the patients and staff interact with Hannah and witness her positive affect on them. It never fails to amaze me how animals can reach places other humans can’t. I bet Hannah has a great time bringing joy to people also. 🙂

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