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Next page End Essay 3: Albert Schweitzer's Affirmations of Reverence for Life

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drawing, and I have mounted it appropriately in my study
among other drawings and prints. The drawing shows
Schweitzer at 86, bushy of hair, mustache, and eyebrows,
hunched over his writing table, with pages of a manuscript
tacked to a wall, sheets of paper on the table, and ants
crawling over the sheets. Frederick describes Schweitzer
encountering his ants: For some years he has been watching
this particular family of ants, a few hundred or a few thousand
quite benign and harmless ones, which live in a nest
somewhere under the floor boards of his room. After every
meal he puts a little piece of fish under the kerosene lamp on
his table; immediately the ants crawl up the table leg, walk in
a neat line across the top piled with papers, and start to tackle
the fish offering from all sides. It requires five or six of the
tiny insects to transport a huge fragment of two cubic
millimeters of fish across the table, down the leg to their
residence. Dr. Schweitzer and I watched with delight how first
the softer pieces of fish were chosen in preference to older,
harder ones. 
Schweitzer
considered
Reverence for Life
to be the elemental
and universal
ethical concept.
 
Schweitzer affirming Reverence for Life: Certainly Reverence
for Life comes to expression in Schweitzers treatment of his
ants, as well as his mosquitoes, his chickens, and his pelican
Parsifal, but it should not be trivialized as being reducible to
only that. Schweitzer considered Reverence for Life to be the
elemental and universal ethical concept; he considered
Reverence for Life to be the foundation for all sound moral
thought and action; he considered Reverence for Life to be a
necessity, a necessary conclusion, of clear thinking and
reflection. When Schweitzer affirmed Reverence for Life, he
affirmed the solidarity of all living things and the moral
obligation of people who live in the midst of living things. 
Schweitzer affirming Reverence for Life: Certainly
Schweitzer was neither the only person nor the first person to
advocate love and solidarity among humans and all living
things. But when he affirmed Reverence for Life, he did so in
his own inimitable way, with the variety of formulations and
affirmations typical of the man who did so many different
things so well.