On Bipeds & Brutes

National Museum of Animals & Society Blog

Reverence for Life

Albert Schweitzer, Etching by Arthur William H...

Image via Wikipedia

Reverence for Life is a concept developed by Dr. Albert Schweitzer (b. 1875), a jack of all trades. Trained as a musician, medical doctor, and man of God, Schweitzer was also a dedicated humanitarian and friend to animals.

Our education intern, Caroline Shapiro, spent a good amount of time researching the life and accomplishments of Dr. Schweitzer for a featured article on our website. On the subject of Reverence for Life, she discovered that:

“While traveling downriver to tend to the ailing wife of a missionary, Schweitzer’s mind suddenly struck on a simple three-word phrase: Reverence for Life. In Schweitzer’s concept of the universe, all living things – mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, insects, plants, fungi, bacteria – were united by their will to maintain that common status: to keep on living. “I am life that wills to live in the midst of life that wills to live,” he wrote. In translating this to an ethical viewpoint, he believed in the simplest terms that “it is good to maintain life and to promote life; it is evil to destroy life and to restrict life.” Those who are a part of the chain of existence have a duty and a responsibility to maintain and promote other life, and above all respect and cherish all other organisms’ right to exist. Reverence for Life. Such a simple philosophy; such a revolutionary idea.”

Schweitzer would go on to win a Nobel Peace Prize for this philosophy, one that would also become part of the National Museum of Animals & Society’s mission:

The National Museum of Animals & Society is dedicated to enriching the lives of animals and people through exploration of our shared experience. To this end, NMAS promotes reverence for life and compassionate ethics in advancing healthy, meaningful interconnections with the animal world.

In this day and age, museums can recognize that as a society we have values. Museums are a place to not only learn the facts or see objects on a particular subject, but to gain perspective on how these facts or objects affect us and the world in which we live. And what do we do with the information or insight once we have it?

NMAS agrees that all animals have a will to live, and that this one precept should be kept in mind when we’re talking about the animals in our midst. And like Albert Schweitzer’s hospital in Lambaréné which treated people and animals, NMAS follows the same approach. This is a Museum for people, but it’s also a museum for animals; a place where both voices can be heard.


2 responses to “Reverence for Life

  1. Pingback: Training by Example « HodgePodge

  2. Pingback: Dr. Schweitzer « Silverwalk Hermitage

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: