Reverence for Life. – By Oscar E V Fernando
Reverence for Life (RL), in a broad sense, may be taken as respect or veneration for the life of plants, animals and human beings.
It is the belief of some that a human being is only an animal and others connote sacredness or morality to a human being, depending on one’s religious belief. On this concept depends the approach to the meaning of (RL)
Does it need moral teaching to conclude RL?
Observing the world around and the behavior of living creatures would be sufficient to revere life!
Following are some thoughts of the Great Humanitarian Philosopher and Writer AlbertSchweitzer-1875 –1965;
· Ethics alone will prompt us to believe that RL involves maintaining life, and that to destroy it, without purpose, is evil.
· The only one thing we are certain of is that we live, and that we want to go on living-until natural death.
· In nature we become aware that RL is something we share with all living creatures-birds in the air, elephants in the forest-extending to even the blade of grass.
· It follows that we are brothers and sisters to all living things and therefore we owe them the same care and respect we wish for ourselves.
In view of the many philosophical divergences attributed to Schweitzer’s writings, the following aspects of his thoughts are highlighted;
· In his books he had adverted to the Old Testament Bible, which is as old as the hills–the Admonishment-Thou Shalt not Kill-and in the New Testament the story of the Good Samaritan-who came to the aid of a suffering person of an unfriendly camp, without passing him on his way.
· He also composed a prayer in his childhood that ran-“O heavenly Father, protect and bless all things that have breath, guard them from all evil, and let them sleep in peace….”
· He admonished the concept of ethics calling it a responsibility without limit toward all that live-connoting that love includes fellowship in suffering and joy.
· He adverted to the fact that in today’s society, the concept of Free Will inherent in human beings to choose between right or wrong is submerged and replaced with the will to do what we want.
· On the basis of this Free Will He Said-I am life that wills to live in the midst of life that wills to live and resolved to stop living thoughtlessly: he thus began to revere life-in order to give life a true meaning!
· In 1920 he adverted to the fact that lack of RL was the cause of the decline in Western Civilization: he noted that west failed to realize that industrial progress should have been mixed with RL.
· In the rapid progress of the Industrial Revolution mankind overlooked ethics of RL-to realize that one can only destroy life under a necessity he cannot avoid, and never from thoughtlessness.
We see that by nature alone and/or moral teachings we are prone to revere life: take the case of a twelve-week fetus infant in the womb receding when forceps get near it to be crushed for abortion-as if to say-Stop-stop I want to go on living (see the video Clip-Scream of the Babe)
Much can be inferred from the writings of Saint Francis of Assisi who says;
· Praise to God for every one of his works.
· Every creature cried out to him-he who made us is infinitely good
· He called animals, brother and sister and exhorted them to praise God together with people on the street
Life of a human being is sacred for Christians who believe that a human being was created in the Image and Likeness of God, according to the Genesis chapter in the bible-to be read in conjunction with the strides taken by Vatican to get closer to Darwin’s theory of evolution-and this may be read on the internet!
Why do humans destroy life and more important-why do they encourage other humans to destroy life-when from within a voice is heard not to do the wrong thing by killing? Should we not avoid killing-be it in normal times or in war?
In contrast to the above, it is interestingly worth pondering as to;
· Why some say it is a sin to kill but-consume what is killed-with no qualms of conscience as they did not kill.
· Some consume what is killed by concluding animals are not sacred unlike human beings and therefore can be killed for consumption-although the killing is brutal and a far sight from the concept of RL.
· Some point out that nature allows the mightier animal to kill the weaker and consume it-and therefore justify palatable meats on the table.
· Others point out that consuming meats is nutritionally beneficial-followed by some who say life in any form should be protected and only kill for say, nutritional or other purposes.
Will we not resist if a higher intellectual creature than we are attempt to kill us to satisfy its palate?
But of course, if there is a will there is a way-to refrain from meat eating!!
The writer can only leave the readers with these thoughts to ponder!
Oscar E V Fernando
August 28, 2019