At the height of his career, Albert Schweitzer was considered one of the most influential men of his time. He inspired millions of people with his speeches of revelations of life and how fulfilling a human’s life can be. Decades later after his death, we look at the world and what is taking place. Amongst the some good on this planet, we still see destruction, death, and corrupt politics [at the very least in the United States]. In 3rd world countries where there are war motivated nations, along with other countries potentially bad ethics, perhaps it is time to reflect on Schweitzer’s words and thoughts during his life.
In Africa, where humans and animals fight for their lives, is when Schweitzer had a revelation and came up with a philosophy that would change the way we look at the world. He accomplished this with 3 simple words, Reverence for Life. After coming up with this phrase on a boat journey up stream through the hearth of Africa, he came invented an entirely new philosophy.
In its simplest form, Reverence for Life means that we as living creatures on planet Earth, are only sure that we want to live and keep on living.
This is something that we share with everything else that lives whether it be, plants, animals, insects, etc. Because of this, anyone or animal or plant that lives on this planet is connected by this one amazing thing. Nothing, whether be race, skin tone, religion, should be more important than this will to live. The world has evolved through millions of years to bring and support life. Every living thing on the planet or even non-living is supported by the Earth. The difference between humans and the rest of all the living organisms is that we humans are the only species that recognize this.
This revelation is very important to humans since we have the ability to destroy life or neglect life, even to cause suffering and death. Needless to say, humans have some responsibility here. It is true that some suffering and death is unavoidable. For example, killing cattle for food, or trees for wood. Even vegans or vegetarians must kill living plants for food. Reverence for Life is simply saying we must be aware of what we are doing. We must be aware of what we are doing, 9 simple words that have such a deep and meaningful impact on everything and anything we humans are doing.
Politics has good and negative impacts on society. How we change the environment can have positive or negative impacts on not only humans, but the entire living world as well. Sometimes, we can be blinded on the bigger picture when we alter environment, for simple reasons such as shelter, money or greed. One very clear example of this is clear cutting. It is true that humans need shelter. But we must be conscious when we begin clear cutting millions of acres of trees in rainforests or other places.
After taking classes like environmental science, one really gains an appreciation for the environment and how even minor changes to a small environment, can have detrimental consequences to the rest of the world. In the case of clear cutting, not only are thousands of species dying but surrounding environments change as well. Less oxygen for the world, more co2 in the atmosphere due to lack of trees eating the co2 is just one example of how the entire planet can be affected. This is just one tiny example but raises good points.
When humans make a decision to say, clear cut trees, we must look at the bigger picture on how this is going to affect us. And we can learn from these decisions as well, maybe find an alternative source to wood to build houses or build desks made of wood. For Schweitzer, even the smallest form of life is incredibly important. The ethical person goes out of his way to avoid injuring anything that is living; he doesn’t tear leaves from trees or step on insects. He rescues worms stranded on a sidewalk after a rain. Schweitzer ethics say a person should be reluctant and think before going and do something simple as shatter ice.
As some may say these ethics are a little extreme, but possibly we could learn from this to help us think of the bigger picture before humans go on with an action or a decision. This can apply in not just nature but in other aspects as well. Aspects such as governments, in Africa for example. Africa is one the most devastated continent on the planet. Suffering from war, famine, murders, genocide, and more one can’t help but think why it is like that and how it can be fixed. For one, before humans got there none of this was going on. We can only blame ourselves as humans for the action happening overseas.
As governments are the leaders and decision makers of countries in Africa, it is there responsibility along with the rest of the human population to be aware what is happening in Africa and start working more aggressively to fix these problems. This being said, I agree with Albert Schweitzer Reverence for Life ethics. We must take responsibility for what we do when we take water from a stream, cook and clean with the water being taken, when we kill an animal, or when we as humans kill other humans. The key concept here is being aware of what is going on in our surroundings.
Life is tender and amazing. Science tells us that the Earth is a very powerful yet sensitive planet. When we alter the planet or take form the planet, it is vital to be aware of re-actions to our actions so to speak. After all this floating ball of rock in space is providing everything we need to support life. Perhaps it is wise to take care and protect the limited resources and re-newable resources this planet provides us. Whatever it maybe, we have good reason to feel reverence for each other, other living things, and our planet and its contents.