This is one of a series of posts which includes a quote concerning human rights, animal rights, and the environment which will focus on anything motivating, uplifting or informative concerning these issues. Here is the first which includes an introduction:
Thought Provoking Quote
“The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition or surrounded by a halo…We need a boundless ethic which will include the animal also.”
“Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”
To be more accurate today’s thought provoking quote is actually two quotes from Albert Schweitzer who had so many profound things to say concerning our relationship with animals that it was difficult to select which quote to include.
Please read the following which is taken from my animal rights website Think Differently About Sheep
“Albert Schweitzer, born 1875 in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine in the German Empire, is perhaps mostly remembered for his work in Africa as a missionary. He was however also a theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician. He also set in motion important ideas concerning our ethical treatment of animals, and was an important protagonist in the evolution of our concept of animal rights. He struggled with the paradoxes of the relationship between man and animal as no other philosopher had ever done before. His philosophy has altered attitudes, led to the passage of laws and helped the cause of animal rights in the latter part of the twentieth century.
Albert Schweitzer developed a philosophy which he called a “Reverence for Life”, for which he received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize; he considered this philosophy his greatest contribution to mankind. He thought that Western civilisations were decaying as a result of the abandonment of its ethical foundation, namely the affirmation of and respect for life. Reverence for life was an essential part of Schweitzer’s personal Philosophy which he hoped would be made known throughout the world by means of his books and talks and through his own example.”
“At sunset of the third day, near the village of Igendja, we moved along an island set in the middle of the wide river. On a sandback to our left, four hippopotamuses and their young plodded along in our same direction. Just then, in my great tiredness and discouragement, the phrase, Reverence for Life, struck me like a flash. As far as I knew, it was a phrase I had never heard nor ever read. I realized at once that it carried within itself the solution to the problem that had been torturing me. Now I knew that a system of values which concerns itself only with our relationship to other people is incomplete and therefore lacking in power for good. Only by means of reverence for life can we establish a spiritual and humane relationship with both people and all living creatures within our reach. Only in this fashion can we avoid harming others, and, within the limits our our capacity, go to their aid whenever they need us.”
Reverence for Life , Albert Schweitzer
Schweitzer’s reverence for life philosophy has had a profound effect on the environmental movement. Rachel Carson dedicated her book A Silent Spring, widely attributed to the beginning of environmental awareness, to Albert Schweitzer. Moreover Schweitzer’s article published in 1936, The Ethics of a Reverence for life may have influenced the rapid growth of ethical and charitable organizations of all kinds throughout the world.
Basically Schweitzer considered that all creatures possess what he called “a will to live ” for which we should empathize, and that this will to live should be respected in all animals without exception, and a person wishing to live in accordance with such an ethic should avoid whenever possible harming another creature…
Please continue reading the complete article, includes more quotations, a small selection of which appear below:
Animal Rights: A History Albert Schweither
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
“The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret…. It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”
“A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as well as that of his fellowman, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.”
“It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed. It was once considered foolish to suppose that black men were really human beings and ought to be treated as such. What was once foolish has now become a recognized truth. Today it is considered as exaggeration to proclaim constant respect for every form of life as being the serious demand of a rational ethic. But the time is coming when people will be amazed that the human race existed so long before it recognized that thoughtless injury to life is incompatible with real ethics. Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility to everything that has life.”
“Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.”