Last night’s Jane Goodall lecture at Rollins College was truly inspiring. She shared stories about her amazing field research in Gombe with chimpanzees – 50 years! She compared both the good and dark sides of chimpanzee behavior with that of humans. She reminded us that even the brightest chimpanzee’s got nothing on even the most average of human beings. One way that we are special, she said, is how we can communicate complex ideas through the beauty of language.
Goodall pleaded that we all not get SO caught up in our clever technologies, that we allow our minds to disconnect from our hearts. She asked us to think about how our actions affect future generations - not just the me, the here, the now.
I am inspired to tell you about a great picture book she co-wrote with Alexander Reichstein. It’s called "The Eagle and The Wren." - It’s about reaching for your dreams – dreams that you may even believe are beyond your means.
“You may ask,” Goodall said, “how a girl born between two world wars, with little means, stands before you today, an overfilled audience, some of whom traveled over 100 miles to see me tonight...well, I am reminded a folk tale I was told by my mother when I was a little girl.”
Who can fly the highest? "I can," claim the lark, the dove, the vulture and the eagle. So owl suggests a contest. With a great flapping of wings, and squawking and calling, the birds take to the air. It is a glorious contest, but one by one each bird falls out and flies back to the earth. But not the eagle. The eagle keeps soaring skyward.
When the eagle returns, all the birds believe they know who won the contest. But owl surprises them all when it is announced that it’s the tiny jenny wren who is champion. For that little jenny wren took passage on the mighty eagle and nestled within the feathers on its back. So the jenny wren flew the highest.
Perhaps Goodall is reminding us how we all must depend on one another for help and support throughout our lives.