When I wake up in the morning after a good nights sleep it feels great to be alive. It then seems like a privilege and an opportunity to have been born into this world. Then the sense of respect for life and the feeling of responsibility not to cause unnecessary harm is very real. At a time when our capacity to influence life on this planet has reached unprecedented potential, we are in dire need of guiding principles by which to steer our course collectively so as to use our technological achievements wisely and for the benefit of all life.
In 1962/63 I worked for 6 months with Dr. Albert Schweitzer at his hospital in Lambarene.
I feel, I owe it to the memory of Dr. Schweitzer to keep his legacy to humanity alive, because I think it can help us all to meet the challenges of our times. The awareness that fundamentally I experience my life “as a wave along with myriads of other waves carried on the surface of the sea”, or as Schweitzer expresses it: as “will to live in the midst of other wills to live” supports every aspect of my life.
Now, in retirement from architecture, most of my time is spent working as Chairman of our UK Schweitzer Charity, RfLUK, to realise the aim of making Schweitzer’s ethical values and ideals accessible to all but particularly to those starting out on their life’s journey and growing into adulthood to take their share of responsibility for humanity’s role within the spectre of life on this planet.
My understanding of Schweitzer’s Reverence for Life gradually increases in depth day by day.
As a keen gardener I am confronted daily with life and death decisions in the natural world. This weed, this slug, this wasps nest must go! It is about weighing the necessity of each action with a sense of responsibility. The conflicts abound. How much water should this plant get at times of water-shortages? Do I really need to kill this fly? There are no easy answers.
So it is in the larger picture. But here humankind now faces existential questions: How many life-threatening chemicals do we allow to seep into the watercourses to be taken down to the sea and accumulate there? How much CO2 do we allow to be exhausted into the atmosphere? How many trees can we plant to redress the deforestation of past decades and to stem the expanding deserts? And many many more! Awareness is a primary requirement.