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Lions Roar : July 2013
going to change the world. As I travel around, I meet the youth. They’re filled with hope and enthusiasm and innovative ideas, and that’s very inspiring. Roots and Shoots is now in 132 countries. Secondly, my reason for hope is the resilience of nature. The places that we’ve destroyed can become beautiful again. And then there’s the human brain, which is utterly amazing. I think of the scientists who drilled down into the permafrost and brought up the remains of an Ice Age squirrel’s nest. In the plant material, they found three living cells and from those living cells they managed to recreate the plant, which was a meadow’s wheat. It’s 32,000 years old, but it’s now growing and seeding and reproducing. That’s the resilience of nature, the incredible human brain, and the indomi- table human spirit. Sometimes people say that something won’t work, but there are other people—like the scientists who recreated this Ice Age plant—who don’t give up. They overcome tremen- dous obstacles, and that’s very inspiring. It gives me hope. In your new book, Seeds of Hope, you talk about the reverence people tend to feel when they’re with trees. Why do you think trees engender these feelings? They engender these feelings for me because—rooted in the ground—they can be so strong. They can withstand wind. They even withstand fire sometimes. It’s difficult for me to stand by a tree with my hand on its bark and not feel that it has a spiritual value as well as a materialistic one. There is the whole symbolism of the roots going into the ground and finding water deep, deep down, and the leaves reaching up. There’s the fact that they’re purifying our air and removing the CO2. You use the word spiritual. How would you define spirituality? It’s the opposite of being materialistic. Some people believe that everything is just there for its material value, or just as a thing. And then other people believe there’s something more than that, which I happen to believe. I don’t know if I can define spiritu- ality—I’m not sure anybody really has—but it’s something that you either feel or you don’t. It’s an awareness of life that’s more than just the physical presence. In your work as a primatologist and an ethologist, what anecdotal evidence have you discovered that demonstrates animals can feel compassion or love? I’ll give you one story. There was an infant chimpanzee named Mel. He was three and should still have been riding on his moth- er’s back, sleeping with her at night, and suckling. But his mother died. If he’d had an older brother or sister, he would have been adopted by that individual, but he didn’t, so he was on his own and we thought he’d die. Then he was adopted by Spindle, an unre- lated male who was twelve, which is about like being a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old human. Spindle let little Mel ride on his back. If it was cold or Mel was frightened, he let him cling to his belly as a bringing peace to the world one garden at a time. landscape design studio 303.442.5220 marpa.com | marpa.com/blog SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 22