Chapter Thirty-Nine

[ a song, easy-listening ]

                                  With reverence for all life
                                  Way of life noble and grand
                                  Goodwill toward every culture
                                  Every nation, tongue and land
                                  May we guard our virgin forests
                                  And may clear waters fill the sea
                                  And with love for one another
                                  May hearts be pollution free

                                  So let us honor Albert Schweitzer
                                  A very kind and gentle man
                                  Who traveled far and wide
                                  Just to lend a helping hand
                                  To the sick and to the poor
                                  To mighty Africa's very least
                                  Touching our hearts for evermore
                                  He tamed the child and the beast

                                  So bless the beasts and the children ¹
                                  And the outcast of Gabon
                                  Bless our home, Planet Earth
                                  Remember the Great White African
                                  May our skies be clear and bright
                                  And may earth's people strive to see
                                  A brave new world of hope tomorrow
                                  Filled with peace, pollution free

                                  With reverence for all life
                                  Way of life noble and grand
                                  Goodwill toward every culture
                                  Every nation, tongue and land
                                  As our souls renew with love
                                  May peace like a river fill the earth
                                  With clear water from the fountain
                                  Of life's everlasting new rebirth

                                  And may our nations learn to live
                                  In true freedom's harmony
                                  With pure water from the fountain
                                  Of everlasting eternity * **
--"Reverence For Life"
The philosophy of Albert Schweitzer

International Albert Schweitzer Foundation

Jean-Michel Cousteauís Ocean Futures Society

Salk Institute for Biological Studies      March of Dimes

DEDICATED TO:  The late Jacques Yves Cousteau; nothing more than his name need be said, for his name is synonymous with Reverence For Life.  Also dedicated to Itzhak Perlman; violinist virtuoso extraordinaire, who has persevered since being victimized by polio at an early age to become perhaps the greatest violinist of the 20th (and 21st) Century and whose innovative expertise extending well beyond the normal bounds of strict classical interpretation, Albert Schweitzer, a great classical musician himself, would have undoubtedly very much admired.


1. Lyric concept from the motion picture soundtrack "Bless The Beasts And The Children", by Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr.; performed by The Carpenters (1971).

*FootNote:  "Once man begins to think about the mystery of his life and the links connecting him with the life that fills the world, he cannot but accept, for his own life and all other life that surrounds him, the principle of Reverence for Life.  He will act according to this principle of the ethical affirmation of life in everything he does.  His life will become in every respect more difficult than if he lived for himself, but at the same time it will be richer, more beautiful, and happier.  It will become, instead of mere living, a genuine experience of life."
 --Albert Schweitzer

**FootNote II:  Not many years ago, the author was talking to a college student at the University of California at Santa Barbara and happened to mention Albert Schweitzer in the conversation.  The immediate reply was, "Who the hell is Albert Schweitzer?"  In the frustrating years of high school, to avoid the abject boredom of the classroom as much as possible, the author spent many hours in the school library, studying among other things, the life and works of Albert Schweitzer.  Not only was Dr. Schweitzer an accomplished physician, author, scientist, musician and philosopher, he was far and beyond, one of civilization's greatest humanitarians and perhaps modern history's first noteworthy environmentalist. Before Jacques Cousteau, a humanitarian in his own right, Albert Schweitzer was practicing extreme reverence for the flora and fauna of our planet and was warning of the potential fallout from global pollution before most people understood that it was much of a problem.  He is reported to be the only known human to have ever tamed a wild pelican and he had such reverence for life that he would insist that sidewalks on his hospital grounds be built around as many trees as possible.  He had to be prodded to even allow the occasional extermination of ants and mosquitoes that poise such a rampant dilemma in Africa and although his talents could have earned him millions had he chosen to write, lecture, perform and practice medicine in Europe or the United States, he instead lived in such poverty that some of his philosophy and letters were written on the backs of envelopes and other scraps of paper.  Perhaps more than any other modern historical figure, Dr. Schweitzer had a profound and lasting effect on the author's social and environmental conscience.  Albert Schweitzer is modern history's foremost example of the importance of understanding that Human Rights and environmental activism are part of the same Just Cause and he represents very clear and persuasive proof that the good deeds and positive influence of one can offset the evil of many.  It remains a tragic and open shame, that he is rarely if ever, mentioned in American classrooms.  (See also, The Tree of Knowledge.)


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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