The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bill Moyers and Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is someone whose influence is quiet and profound. As alluded to here, and for so many others, her work in the 70s was revelatory. Humans and chimps are not alien species to one another. And, even more profoundly, once the contrast between simians and humans is made so compellingly, how evolution explains the singular qualities of humanity is clear.

BILL MOYERS: I know that you consider cruelty the worst human sin, right? I mean, you wrote, “Once we accept that a living creature has feelings and suffers pain. Then if we knowingly and deliberately inflict suffering on that creature, we are equally guilty. Whether it be human or animal, we brutalize ourselves.” But you learn from the chimpanzees that animals can be cruel, too.

JANE GOODALL: Yes, but I think a chimpanzee doesn’t have the intellectual ability, or I don’t think it does, to deliberately inflict pain. You know, we can plan a torture, whether it’s physical or mental. We plan it. And in cold blood we can execute it. The chimpanzee’s brutality is always– you know the spur of the moment. It’s some trigger in the environment that causes this craze, almost, of violence.

BILL MOYERS: You saw gangs of males attacking single females.


BILL MOYERS: You saw cannibalism among–

JANE GOODALL: We’ve seen cannibalism.

BILL MOYERS: –the chimps. I mean, including females who eat the newborn females of members of their own community although there’s other food available. You describe primal warfare among the chimps. What do we take from that? Since you’re looking at them to see what we can learn about us, and about our evolution, what conclusion do you reach about their aggression?

JANE GOODALL: Well, some people have reached the conclusion that war and violence is inevitable in ourselves. I reach the conclusion that I do believe we have brought aggressive tendencies with us through our long human evolutionary path. I mean, you can’t look around the world and not realize that we can be, and often are, extremely brutal and aggressive. And equally, we have inherited tendencies of love, compassion, and altruism, because they’re there in the chimp. So, we’ve brought those with us. So, it’s like each one of us has this dark side and a more noble side. And I guess it’s up to each one of us to push one down and develop the other.

BILL MOYERS: You even wrote once that it was your study of chimpanzees that crystallized your own belief in the ultimate destiny toward which humans are still evolving. What is that? What is that ultimate destiny? And how did the chimps contribute to your understanding?

JANE GOODALL: Because, when you have the thing that’s more like us than any other living thing on the planet that helps you to realize the differences. You know, how are we different. And so, we have this kind of language. So, that’s led to our intellectual development. That’s led to refining of morals. And, you know, the questions about meaning and life and everything. So I think we’ve moving or should be moving towards some kind of spiritual evolution. Where we understand without having to ask why.

BILL MOYERS: But “why” is the fundamental question, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that what one of the things that makes us human is we can ask why?

JANE GOODALL: Yeah, but maybe we ask too often. Maybe we should sometimes be content with just a knowing and being satisfied with the knowing, without saying, “Why do I know?”


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