In a sermon he preached in 1902, Albert Schweitzer said: "Thought and analysis are powerless to pierce the great mystery that hovers over the world and over our existence, but knowledge of the great truths only appears in action and labor." He was fascinated with theology, philosophy, and music throughout his life. But once Schweitzer got to his medical work in tropical Africa, he was caught up in an even larger and more passionate quest which he called "Reverence for Life." This son of a Lutheran village pastor was always sensitive to the suffering of both people and animals alike.
James Brabazon, who wrote a biography of Schweitzer, calls him "a many-sided man, and in each of his sides he excelled." This volume in the Modern Spiritual Masters Series contains sections on Jesus and the Kingdom of God, Music and Its Meaning, Africa, and Reverence for Life. In the final section, there is much food for thought.
Schweitzer writes: "The ethic of Reverence for Life, therefore, comprehends within itself everything that can be described as love, devotion, and sympathy whether in suffering, joy, or effort." It is a vision and an attitude of mind that emphasizes the connections which tie us to other people, animals and objects. Reverence for life takes us beyond our limited loyalties to family and a small circle of friends to a much more expansive circle. It also wipes away the old divisions and creates pathways of cooperation that are not possible when people accentuate separations rather than unity. In another sermon, Schweitzer says: "Reverence for the infinity of life means removal of the alienation, restoration of empathy, compassion, sympathy."