The title of this book alone, The Book Of Hope makes you want to pick it up and read it – Jane Goodall’s photo on the cover with her serious stare is pleading with the reader to look inside. As the messages of hopelessness and panic over climate change are becoming more vocal, here is some positivity that may inspire people not to throw their hands in the air and simply give up.
Douglas Abrams spent a considerable amount of time with Jane Goodall, both in person, and then because of covid, remotely, discussing the notions of hope and resilience. So, what is hope? It is not just fantasizing or wishful thinking - hope leads to future success because it is a way of acting by seeing ‘that there is light despite all of the darkness’.
The initial discussion in the book gives a background to Jane’s early life, which helps to bring some understanding of how her views and beliefs have been formed. Jane then explains her four reasons for hope.
Firstly she talks about the amazing human intellect, what has made humans develop, and are we really ‘wise?’. The second reason for hope is the resilience of nature. She talks of eco-grief, which people are experiencing because of the climate crisis. Yet there are many examples in nature of the will to survive, of adaptation and the amazing work that many communities are carrying out to overcome the loss of species. The third reason that Jane sees for hope is the power of young people. Her Roots and Shoots programme, working with Tanzanian high school students, has become a global movement, involving students from kindergarten to university. The fourth reason is the indomitable human spirit. In other words, what is it that makes people stand back up and keep on going, despite all odds being against them?
The book is written as a series of chats between Jane and Douglas. There is also coverage of Jane’s fascinating life story and a final message of hope to inspire everyone to play their part ‘for the sake of our children, for those struggling in poverty. For the sake of the lonely. And for the sake of our brothers and sisters in the natural world - the animals, the plants, the trees.
Reviewer: Rachel White