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Dr. Jane Goodall: Healing and possibility of peace

Dr. Jane Goodall is a world-renowned scientist who has studied primates in the wild for more than forty years. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, which is dedicated to creating a network of individuals committed to improving life on earth. She will receive the Gandhi/King Award for Non-Violence at the United Nations in October. Dr. Goodall joined the chat room from Seattle, Washington.

CNN: How can people best deal with the recent terrorist attacks?

GOODALL: I think we must cling to the hope that we can see in the great heroism, the bravery of the firemen and policemen, and the outpouring of caring and concern that has come pouring in from around the world. I believe that the tragedy that's caused so much grief and suffering to so many thousands and thousands of people has also served as a call to action, because many people whom I have met are re-examining their own value systems, and the churches, temples, mosques and cathedrals are packed to overflowing for the first time in years.

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CHAT PARTICIPANT: How do we deal with the fear and hate many of us feel, when that is not our normal state of mind.

GOODALL: I think that this is the hardest challenge that we face now because fear leading to hate is causing misery and even death to countless more innocent Muslims, Arabs and even people looking like Arabs. I've heard heart-rending stories of refugees from Pakistan, from Afghanistan, and other countries, who've worked so hard to set up small shops, and now at best, their shops are being boycotted, at worst, their shops destroyed, and themselves harmed and killed.

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I think each one of us needs to reach out in our own community and make contact with any Muslims that we know, and everybody who even looks Arabic, and let them know that we don't hold them responsible, and ask if they need help. Because if this backlash of understandable fear, leading to hate, escalates much further, then Islamic leaders who have condemned the terrorism will surely seek some way to avenge these additional innocent victims, and every time this happens, the terrorists gain another victory.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: How do you think we should control our thirst for knowledge about the events without becoming obsessed over it?

GOODALL: I believe that accurate knowledge is very, very important, but find that out in free time. Don't let it take over every hour of the day. Perhaps most important, talk about it. Discuss it, especially in schools and colleges. I think it's very important to find practicing Muslims and people of Arabic descent to come and talk about the Muslim religion, and also about conditions in Afghanistan. Try to learn more about the relationship of the terrorists to the Middle East, and to understand the kind of poverty that is the breeding ground for recruitment by those recruiting the terrorists. And understand that the Islamic faith is peaceful, a gentle faith.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: In your message at, you state that: "You can never underestimate the power of prayer." How important is prayer, from a social psychology and social anthropology perspective, in helping to deal with mass grief as is being displayed after the World Trade Center attacks?

GOODALL: We deal with mass grief each in our own way, and for many, many people, prayer -- a connecting with a great spiritual power, but also in this case, a connecting between grieving people -- is a way of unburdening one's soul The sharing and the asking for strength is healing.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Many people in the peace movement are silent because of fear from the more militant attitudes expressed by many Americans. How can those people overcome the fear of promoting a peaceful solution?

GOODALL: I think everybody should take every opportunity to seek for, pray for, and work towards peace. I think it's becoming clearer that the administration is trying to find a way of bringing the people behind the terrorist attack to justice. It's very, very clear that all involving Afghanistan would just add to the death of innocent people, and be very, very unjust.

CNN: As a student of human behavior, what do you believe causes terrorism?

GOODALL: I think that terrorism is fueled by hate. The tragedy is that there are countless young children who are being taught to hate, just as we try to teach our children to love. Terrorism is usually fueled also by poverty, and the fanatical faith of the terrorists who truly believe that the more people they kill who do not subscribe to their faith, the greater their reward in heaven. It's absolutely impossible for most of us to even begin to imagine what this would be like, and it's very, very important to realize that these fanatical fundamentalist Muslims do not represent the Islamic faith.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Do you think negotiations are better than the threat of war?

GOODALL: I think anything is better than war. The extent to which one can negotiate with fanatics, I have no idea. I don't know.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Will the public show continued support if the government doesn't use military force?

GOODALL: I think that the public is now getting over the initial shock, leading to a desire to hit back. I think that the public is beginning to think of their own sons being sent to war, and what this would mean. I believe there is a growing and desperate hope in more and more people for a solution that avoids war. We all should talk about this at every opportunity.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Because I am for peace, I have been accused of not caring about the deaths of those at the World Trade Center. What answer would you give to those who believe this about being for peace?

GOODALL: Well, if somebody says this to me, I would simply ask them, do they really believe that those people who tragically died would believe that inflicting this kind of death on another innocent person would be what they wanted? I think we have to try and divide up this grieving into individual pieces, because each grieving person who lost someone in the tragedy, their grief is no greater than if that person had been killed in some other kind of accident.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Can you comment, please, on the Taliban's treatment of women?

GOODALL: For many, many years, I have been utterly appalled by the treatment of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. It must be made very, very clear to everyone that the Taliban are not, repeat NOT, representative of the Islamic faith, and the Taliban and the Afghans are not to be equated. The Taliban are religious fanatics who are twisting Muslim beliefs out of recognition.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: How do we prepare ourselves emotionally for the possibility that terrorists might use biological or chemical weapons?

GOODALL: I just think we have to find a way of keeping these fears out of our daily lives. Every single day, we could be in a motorcar accident, so, we have to carry on with our lives, and not imagine terror around every corner. I do realize that for some people this is very different. But those of us who spent time, for example, in England, have been exposed so many times to bomb threats, some of which are actual bombs, that we have learned how to live without being fearful all the time, because we had to.

CNN: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us?

GOODALL: I think my final thought is that there are probably many of you out there who, before the terrorist attack, were working towards healing the environment, working for various causes relating to animal welfare, hoping desperately that there would be no drilling for oil in Alaska, hoping that the low-frequency sonar testing by the U.S. Navy could be halted. These issues are just as important now as they were before. Maybe they are even more important. If we allow the destruction of the environment, we can see the terrorists have utterly won, and are destroying the future of our children and grandchildren. We must not let that happen.

CNN: Thank you for joining us today.

GOODALL: Goodbye to everyone out there, and you can find many answers on our Web site,

Dr. Jane Goodall joined the chat room via telephone and CNN provided a typist. The above is an edited transcript of the interview on Thursday, September 27, 2001 at 11 a.m. EDT.


• The Jane Goodall Institute
• Jane Goodall's message of hope
• The Interfaith Center of New York: Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence

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