Albert Schweitzer’s Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life

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Rud argues that Schweitzer's life and work offer inspiration and timely insights for both educational thought and practice in our new century. Item Condition The image provided on our listings is a stock image and is for illustrative purposes only, whilst every effort is made to keep up with publisher changes through format and edition releases it is not always possible. The book cover, binding and edition may vary from the one shown. Collectible books Will be signed, a limited first edition, out of print, or have other desirable qualities that could reasonably be assumed to increase the book's value to a collector.

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Books may contain a remainder mark on an outside edge, but this should be noted in the listing comments. Any accompanying CDs or DVDs must be present and any access codes relating to the same, or to other content, must be present and unredeemed. Very Good A copy that has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged.

Good A copy that has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact including the dust cover, if applicable. The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include "From the library of" labels. Books may have any accompanying access codes for additional or replacement content missing or redeemed. Through it all there was the loving inspiration, and in the end, expert editing of my wife Rita. I also felt the love and support of our daughter, Rachel, and my parents, the late Anthony G.

Rud and Marianne E. At Palgrave Macmillan, Burke Gerstenschlager, editor, and Samantha Hasey, editorial assistant, saw value in this project and guided it to comple- tion. Purdue University, its College of Education, and my colleagues in the Department of Educational Studies, as well as the American Studies Program of the College of Liberal Arts, always provided a scholarly and supportive environment. In the final stages of manuscript preparation, my new institution, Washington State University and its College of Education, offered much needed support.

Part of Chapter 6 is adapted from A. Part of Chapter 7 is adapted from A. Part of Chapter 9 is adapted from A. He wrote of his formative early years and how life in Europe shaped his path taken later in Africa where he had made his major life choice.

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PDF | On Feb 24, , Anthony A Defalco and others published Albert Schweitzer's Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life. This is the first book devoted to the study of the thought of Albert Schweitzer as it relates to educational theory and practice. Rud argues that Schweitzer's life and.

Schweitzer is remarkable in how he sees aspects of his character crystallized in particular incidents of his childhood. These incidents built the foundation of his character for later analysis of his thought and action in Africa as well as his legacy for educational theory and practice. First, the foundation and development of his life and his educational views are foreshadowed by visiting childhood influences.

This portrait comes not only from his words, but also from several noted biographies. Second, discussion of his biography is useful in assessing its sphere of influence upon current educational practice. This idea forms the basis for discussing later in the book Schweitzer as possibly a paradigmatic figure in the sense of that term given by the philosopher Karl Jaspers, as well as an educational prophetic figure in the sense of that term given by the educational philosopher David Purpel.

Freud sought the roots of adult behavior in childhood incidents and practices with a sweeping generalization that is stimulating to read and ponder but is questionable regarding individual cases. That I like an orderly life may not be causally related to my potty training, but may have other roots that we are just beginning to explore in the neurosciences. Much ink has been spilled in linking both traumatic and pleasurable incidents in childhood to patterns of adult behavior.

However, if I do believe that potty training affected how I conduct my later life, then that is pertinent and illuminating to how I see my life. Others may question the interpretation given by the adult, as I will later do with how Schweitzer saw his life and, indeed, how others constructed a life story for him. With Schweitzer, early incidents remain pertinent and relevant, particularly since he has authored his own published narrative, and thus we must, at least at first, take these to be how he interpreted these early life incidents and how they fit into his narrative.

On his early accomplishments as a scholar and musician, I rely upon his own words of description, as well as those of several biographers. In Chapter 3 his premarital relationship with Helene Bresslau, revealed in the published letters between them covering their long friendship, courtship, and finally marriage, forms the basis of my investigation. Early Life Albert Schweitzer was born in in Alsace, a region between Germany and France known for its internationalism and its resistance to being either German or French entirely.

They all helped to shape his outlook. Alsace was the geographical anchor for him even as he spent most of his life elsewhere. Kaysersberg, where Schweitzer was bom, and Giinsbach, where he grew up, were and are now small villages in the Colmar region of the province. This area was predominantly agricultural when Schweitzer grew up there in the late nineteenth century. While the region is largely Roman Catholic, the Protestant denominations, such as Lutherans and Anabaptists, have played an important role in history.

Schweitzer would have been familiar with the Mennonite sects there, and it is here in Alsace that Jacob Amman broke away from the Mennonites, and his followers were later called the Amish. Later, Schweitzer would have his only child, his daughter Rhena, educated by the Moravian brethren called the Herrenhiiter. Schweitzer seemed a misfit in a traditional educational setting.

While he constantly questioned his elders; he would persist to an unusual degree in the philosophical queries that characterize many young searching souls. Suffering bothered him tremendously, especially that of animals, though he was capable of inflicting pain upon animals, which led him to guilt and further questions.

Why is it necessary? And what philosophy or religion could explain it and give the world a true ethical basis for dealing with it? Yet, Schweitzer very much wanted to be like a villager, and in Memoirs of Childhood and Youth he writes at some length about the various ways that he did this — what food he ate, the kind of clothing he wore, and so forth — in order to try to fit in with others. He was stung by the fact that even if he did all this, he still was not accepted by the boys in the village.

He did not want to be perceived as being the son of a pastor and thus some- how better than others. In other respects, Schweitzer seems to have had an ordinary childhood. However, he did differ from his classmates in his marked sensitivity to suffering, whether it was by downtrodden humans or hapless animals.

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There are a number of well-known incidents that he recounts from his childhood to illustrate that sensitivity. These have become part of the Schweitzer legend that has perpetuated in part by his deeds but also, as here, his recounting of his own moral narrative; it is worth considering them anew as a foundation for our later discussion of his evolving motiva- tion to go to Africa, and what he considered educational aspects of his development.

Schweitzer was saddened and disgusted by the old horse beaten on its way to slaughter. Yet he was acutely aware of his own delight as a boy in such activity. While many children, particularly boys, tease animals and are even cruel to them , 7 few remember such incidents as important or key to the development of their personality. Schweitzer focuses on these few incidents to a degree that shows they helped constitute his outlook later for reverence for life.

He recalls vividly his delight in disciplining Phylax when the dog chased after the postman. What a proud feeling it was to stand in front of the barking, snarling dog like a lion tamer and master him with blows when he wanted to break out of the corner! That proud feeling did not last, however. When we were later sit- ting together as friends, I reproached myself for having beaten him.

Albert Schweitzer's life and legacy

I knew I could keep him away from the mailman by holding his collar and stroking him. Nevertheless, when the critical hour approached, I yielded again to the intoxication of playing a tamer of wild beasts. He is candid and vulnerable, showing that he too had these all-too-human feelings. For some people, the experience of having dominion over creatures continues to cloud their per- ceptions and may lead to other kinds of abusive behavior. Here is his description of the incident: We approached a leafless tree in which birds, apparently unafraid of us, were singing sweetly in the morning air.

Crouching like an Indian hunter, my friend put a pebble in his slingshot and took aim. Obeying his look of command, I did the same with terrible pangs of conscience and vowing to myself to miss. At that very moment the church bells began to ring out into the sunshine, mingling their chimes with the song of the birds.

It was the warning bell, half an hour before the main bell ringing. For me, it was a voice from Heaven. I put the slingshot aside, shooed the birds away so that they were safe from my friend, and ran home. I began to overcome my fear of being laughed at by my classmates. The way in which the commandment not to kill and torture worked on me is the great experience of my childhood and youth.

Next to it, all others pale. We hear the pealing of the bells and see how young Schweitzer upsets the hunt. The camera tightly focuses on his face, and shows the birds fluttering away. The church bells are loud and oracular. Why does Schweitzer regard this incident as the most significant of his childhood? The realization came to him in an emotionally charged moment. It is almost as if he was called to this. There is a sense of an involuntary pull toward something else, and for Schweitzer, and for the viewer of the film, this pull is signaled by the pealing of the bells.

He has this revelation, and it connects an incident the slingshot , an image the bird in the tree , a sound the bells , and something that associates with that sound a dictum. This powerful mnemonic carved its place in his heart and his mind. He learned that he had the resolve to stand up against this kind of action. Schweitzer also believed that animals exhibited an ethical regard toward each other, and cites observations to support a view that is gaining increasing attention today.

A flock of geese waits for a fellow goose whose wings were clipped by a gardener until its wing feathers had grown enough for flight; monkeys adopt an orphan among their midst; an injured sparrow is allowed to get its fill of crumbs undisturbed by fellow healthy birds. This indirect way of teaching Schweitzer speaks about is through example. As with the quotation before, it is terse and calls out for explication. Schweitzer admires here an unwavering sense of duty. It seems that here he is praising constancy of character. External guides to character, such as exhortations and punishments, are not as effective as an educative influence.

Finally, we see here that Schweitzer does not characterize himself as a physician, but as an educator. How is it that he is educating? It is through the active life Schweitzer wrote these words 10 years after he first went to Africa of helping others, and showing by example, that Schweitzer is accomplishing his teaching, much the way that Dr.

Wehmann made such an indelible impression upon him. However, here Schweitzer is holding incompatible thoughts, namely the power of the example of duty, and the need to understand all with reason. Reason, I told myself, has been given to us so that we may grasp through it all thoughts, even the most sublime ones of religion. This certainty filled me with joy. This path is remarkable and contrary to the immediacy of faith that he experienced as a Christian. He was a man who affirmed a rational faith, was open to and intellectually curious about other religions, but at his core was a man who wanted to follow simply the example of Jesus, and set out to do just that in his work in Africa.

The sensitivity Schweitzer displayed in the incident with the slingshot and the bird was tempered by the other great formative influence upon his life, music. He began playing the piano and the organ as a young boy, and devoted most of his attention in life to the organ and to his favorite com- poser, Johann Sebastian Bach. He had a special piano outfitted for the extremely humid climate of Lambarene that he played late at night after his work in the hospital. There, a massive statue of a reclining African native exuded strength and solidity of character.

This Negro gave me a great deal to think about. Whenever we went to Colmar, I sought an opportunity to look at him. His face told me about the misery of the dark continent. To this day, I make a pilgrimage to see him when I am in that town. He liked his studies in the sciences, but not because of the textbook presentations.

The kind of awe he felt for Nature was all but dried up in a textbook. Their confident explanations formulated for memorization — which, I noticed, were already somewhat outdated — did not satisfy me in any way. It seemed ridiculous to me that wind, snow, hail, rain, the forma- tion of clouds, the spontaneous ignition of hay, the trade winds, the Gulf Stream, thunder and lightning were supposed to have been explained.

It wounded me that the ultimate mysteriousness of nature was not recognized and teachers confidently claimed to have an explanation where only a more deeply penetrating description had been achieved; this made the mysterious only more mysterious. Forming an Outlook In looking back upon his life, Schweitzer notes the central incidents that helped to form his outlook. He was conflicted in being the son of a pastor, which the local boys saw as being better than them, or so Schweitzer thought. These early influences joined with his study, especially of reli- gious and philosophic traditions.

He saw the way out of these shadows through a commitment to action that occupied most of his life. But Schweitzer did not leave these intellectual and religious traditions behind when he studied to become a medical doctor and then went to West Africa to practice among the native people. He fused these traditions with his work to form his distinct contri- bution to active and committed thought in practice, with its impact upon many fields, including education.

Deep in the heart of man lies this yearning for a world view. The sciences as such can never free him; only philosophy has this possibility So it is wholly false to say that philosophy has outlived its day. Without philosophy no education is possible and without education there can be no ethics and no religion in a scientific era. He was educated to be a philosopher and a theologian, saw the cultural forces at work in his time, and gave a distinctive answer and reaction to the currents of his age. I shall first discuss his philo- sophical heritage with Kant, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Spengler.

These thinkers were part of the intellectual climate of Germany at the time and Schweitzer read them and absorbed their influences into his own outlook and thought. However, he went beyond their thinking in important ways in his life and in his intellectual work, by joining this German thought with that of Christianity and Jainism.

The intellectual and religious heritage and tradi- tions that Schweitzer brought to bear upon his work and that we can bring to bear upon teaching, learning, and leading in education are rich and deep. Immanuel Kant Schweitzer wrote his doctoral dissertation about the work of Immanuel Kant. Kant responded to the great debates of early modern philosophy about the source, scope, and limits of human reason with a new synthesis of reason and experience. Practical reason for Kant rested upon his categorical imperative, to act only on a basis that you can will to become universal law.

Schweitzer wanted also to find a core principle upon which to base his life. The attraction of Kant would be to this aspect of his thought, the moral thinking of his work, Critique of Practical Reason. The categorical imperative of acting so that the maxim of your action becomes a universal law is a standard by which a life can be lived. Schweitzer wanted this kind of standard, and he used it to judge what had been done.

What attracts me in him is that he is a man of action at the same time that he is a poet, a thinker, and in certain domains a savant and a man of research. And what binds us together in the deepest depths of our beings is his philosophy of nature. Other philosophers could, and often did lead lives that appeared to be totally unaffected by their theories and speculations. Not so with Schweitzer. He will mount no higher; he should not try to get behind the experience.

Schweitzer relied on the idea of Kantian duty, and coupled that with a demand upon for action in the world. In Goethe, Schweitzer saw reflective action conditioned by reverence. This passage has always irritated me. The idea of reverence for life came to me as an unexpected discovery, like an illumination coming upon me in the midst of intense thought while I was completely conscious. And when the idea and the words had come to me, it was of Buddha I thought, and not of Goethe. Nietzsche drew upon the pessimism of Arthur Schopenhauer, and especially his philosophy of the will, to formulate a philosophical position that elevates vitality and artistic expression.

This action is the meaning of making your life your argu- ment. Schweitzer had more to say about Nietzsche. Nietzsche saw that European thought had gone down a path that led to a desiccated place where reason had cleared the landscape of anything that might approach what he deemed noble human accomplishment, and had led to an era of common sameness and, quite frankly, democracy.

Nietzsche ennobled the artist and the insightful intellectual. He delighted in his own written creations and dared others to think like him. He pro- claimed the death of God, but privileged human will to power. Spiritual Decay Nietzsche looked around at the cultures and societies of late-nineteenth- century Europe and saw that as a result of an Enlightenment thinking tradition had corroded and a vibrant life of action and artistic achieve- ment was absent.

Schweitzer was as interested and passionate as Nietzsche in wanting to make alive a new culture to replace one that was moribund, but the path he took toward that end could not have been more different. Schweitzer turned outward toward others, and more importantly, recognized the pain and suffering in his immediate surroundings, and worked in a practical manner toward its erasure. Schweitzer did not think of his own work as an individual effort, even as he took the initiative to establish the hospital. Though he could be a difficult and imperious task- master, he saw himself as serving others in Africa.

However, in his own way, Schweitzer too was enacting Nietzschean individualism. As Mark E. The opportunity to serve others in a robust and life-affirming manner first presented itself when he discussed the Paris Missionary Society and the needs in equatorial Africa with Helene. Prophecy In Chapter 8 I characterize Schweitzer as an educational prophet, develop- ing that idea from thinkers in educational philosophy who see teaching as a calling or vocation, and the role of the teacher being someone who bears witness to cultural lassitude and social injustice by pointing to a better place and how we educators can get there.

Here suffice it to say that both Schweitzer and Nietzsche were prophets, but of a different sort. The spiritual homeland to which Nietzsche wanted to go was too egoistic for Schweitzer. Both of these men had distinct responses to European spiritual decay, and saw what they thought was a better world. Nietzsche would enact that world through individual art and will to power.

Schweitzer called upon service borne of the renun- ciation of the individual will, and a turning outward to aid the very people whom Nietzsche despised. His formulation of Christianity is complex enough to prompt scholars to ask if he indeed was a Christian. Yet Schweitzer was also a scholar of the New Testament and used his mind to examine in detail all that had been said about Jesus in scholarly works.

So it is a blend of heart and head that Schweitzer brings to Jesus, adding the element of hand in his work in the hospital. The historical Jesus was all the more remarkable for Schweitzer, clad not in later theologies and interpretations, but revealed in his acts and deeds in a particular time of history. He brackets through critical analysis the work of others, evaluating and showing how this work can help illuminate the life of Jesus.

Schweitzer has ingeniously used his intellect to support what he believed in early life: the words and deeds of a man who captured his soul and intellect. This message would later contribute to his formulation of Reverence for Life. The work that Schweitzer did to evaluate the Jesus scholarship in his book indicates that this is far from universal.

Schweitzer very much believed that there is a diminishment when we try to see Jesus within our own worldview. That is the reason why the Jesus of modern theology is so strangely lifeless. When left in His own eschatological world, He is far greater and, in spite of His strangeness, affects us much more powerfully and elementally. Actually He cannot be an authority for us on matters concerning knowledge, but solely on those concerning the will. We enter into relationship with Him only by being brought together in recognition of common will, and by experiencing a clarification, enrichment, and quickening of our will through His.

Thus we find ourselves again in Him. In this sense every deeper relationship between humans partakes of a mystical quality.

A. G. Rud, Albert Schweitzer's Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life - PhilPapers

Schweitzer goes back to Old Testament prophets Amos and Isaiah, and to Zarathustra, to see that the ethical consists of being part of a social fabric, where one affirms the good in others and seeks to improve social conditions. He also saw this ethical action in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, which Schweitzer recounts in the beginning of his book On the Edge of the Primeval Forest. Dives lives a life of luxury while outside his home Lazarus lives destitute and covered with sores. The two die, Dives consigned to hell and Lazarus by the side of Abraham in heaven.

When Dives pleads for mercy, Abraham admonishes him for not taking action in his lifetime. Dives cannot make up for what he did not do to help Lazarus in his own lifetime. It is actions here and now that matter in helping those in need. How did that come about? Many of us have done the same as Schweitzer, namely, reacted with concern and perhaps a vague plan to help when we hear about misery in a far off land, yet we have not been moved to action beyond perhaps a donation to a cause or a shared experience such as watching a telethon replete with prominent pop stars urging us to help.

This is what he means by being ethical — to recognize this interdependence and affirm our need to do the good to keep Nature as robust and life-giving. It is not only to improve social conditions for humans, but to realize our own place within nature and to see the world through a pantheistic rather than anthropocentric lens. Schweitzer got this in part from Spinoza, but more fundamentally from Indian thought, particularly Jainism, with its emphasis upon the divinity of all living things. Though Schweitzer asserted he simply wanted to be a follower of Jesus, it was not only Christian or Western influences that led him to Reverence for Life as a guiding principle.

The idea of a boundless ethic came to Schweitzer from Indian sources. Barsam argues convincingly in an essay and later in a book for the importance of understanding the role that Indian thought played, particularly Jainism and its practice of ahimsa, characterized by nonviolence and noninjury in its dual aspects of respect for all life and compassion for life karuna. Goethe focused his reverence for those creatures that sustain human life. What sets Schweitzer apart is his pronouncement of a bound- less ethic, and this is most clearly related to Jainism and ahimsa 31 even as Schweitzer connects this thought of a boundless ethic to the ethic of love he draws from the life and work of Jesus.

Schweitzer appreciated Schopenhauer for his emphasis on the elemental and central role of the will. Schopenhauer saw the will, or perhaps what we might call desire, as the elemental force in Nature, and what brings about misery and lack of fulfillment by its ceaseless striving. The way out for Schopenhauer is through a Buddhist negation of the will, and a separation of the will from its objects. That is why Schweitzer saw all life as sacred. Barsam notes the clarity with which Schweitzer realized this insight by quoting him twice on this point: The ethics of reverence for life makes no distinction between higher and lower, more precious and less precious lives.

How can we know the importance other living organisms have in themselves and in terms of the universe? Every life is sacred! Value judgments are made out of subjective neces- sity, but they have no validity beyond that. The proposition that every life is sacred is absolute. In this respect I will always remain a heretic. It is a question of principle, one that reaches deep into the foundation of my outlook on life. A Creative Tension For some commentators, Schweitzer vacillates between theism and pan- theism.

That is why I prefer to content myself with a description of the experience of reflec- tion, leaving pantheism and theism as an unsolved conflict in my soul. This relationship and conflict between philosophical reflection and religious conviction plays out in the context of the development of the most important personal relationship of his life, with his wife Helene, his partner and soul mate. He searched and finally found his mission in life at least partly through her.

My contention in this chapter is simple, that Albert Schweitzer developed an unsure and inchoate ideal to a resolved course of action by sounding these ideas in correspondence with his future wife. What is the effect of Helene upon Albert, and what was the map of his decision to go to Africa, and how did this develop? These questions all touch upon human growth, development, reflection, and maturity, and thus are educational issues in a broad sense. The answer to these questions comes at least in part from the letters that Schweitzer and his future wife exchanged during their long courtship.

The young man who knew what he wanted but not how it could be attained became the man of action who knew his path. She lived in Europe most of her life, and raised Rhena, seeing her husband when he would come for visits to Europe. We may need to adjust our cultural lenses here too to understand how the relationship developed over this extended period of years from a friendship shared over common ideals to a marriage.

It was an arrangement by which two people, both dedicated to a single cause, could work together. Far from hiding their feelings and emotions, Albert and Helene funneled such into writing to each other in often passionate and anguished letters. It was a lengthy courtship, and we can look to these letters to see ways that we, as readers now a century on, can listen and hear what is being said. It is unusual to have a written, formal record of such thoughts these days. But letters composed deliberately are not as much a part of our culture anymore.

We may write someone a letter, but we do not exchange letters over a long period of time, nor do we save these so we can look at them whole and as dialogue. Letters and Diaries Diaries may be comparable to the intensity and seriousness that Albert Schweitzer and Helene Bresslau exhibited in their correspondence. Schweitzer did not use his letters as conscious means toward transformation quite in the ways that Hillesum and Frank did with their diaries, but we see the transformation over time that did occur with these three examples. Hillesum used her diary in resistance to anti-Semitism but also, as David T.

Hansen describes, the diary became a transformative instrument that enabled her spiritual journey. The letters Albert Schweitzer and Helene Bresslau exchanged were in calmer circumstances, but were no less transformative for Albert at least. We can only guess what would have become of the Dutch woman Hillesum and the Dutch teenager Frank had they not been killed in Nazi concentration camps.

We can see what became of the work of Albert Schweitzer and Helene Bresslau, foreshadowed with increasing clarity in the letters they exchanged prior to marriage. Schweitzer reached out to Bresslau and in so doing was able to see more clearly the path that his life would take, though neither of them could have foreseen that she would not be able to tolerate the difficult climate of Lambarene, likened to me by a visitor as living in a steam room.

Helene returned to Europe and lived there, seeing Albert regularly but usually only when he traveled back for visits, fund raising, or speaking engagements. Schweitzer was a private man who did not allow his feelings to show to others in any great degree. I am fortunate in my interpreta- tion to draw upon personal insight gained in telephone and face-to-face conversation and my own written correspondence with their only child, Rhena Schweitzer Miller. The tone is set in the first letters of the collection.

Here Albert is busy with work and apologetic to Helene, and the letters themselves are short. We will find it! Yet, what he does not see or realize is her anguish and her own resdess spirit. His own solution for her restlessness appears in a subsequent letter in talking about how nature gives in, as he says, after two stormy days. He strongly identifies nature with woman and the struggle for identity, and sets up the dichotomy of his call to be in obedience to Jesus, whereas for her the call is of the heart.

Schweitzer wanted to teach and influence others, but found himself trapped in the thick of petty jealousies and politics at the seminary. He had a vision of what he wanted to do, but the more these ideas came into fruition and became real the more engaged he was with Helene. He slowly came to realize that she was his soul mate and companion. The slumber and potentiality Schweitzer felt was a source of restless- ness.

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He wanted to act, and found that his life as a musician, pastor, and professor did not provide outlets for what was churning within him. His comments about Friedrich Nietzsche show what he thought of a life of relentless thinking that did not result in action. Nietzsche did not come out of his cage, but tore himself to pieces in the end because he could not focus his energies outward toward action. He was searching for a way to not only be in the world but do for it. As if that would be my goal, the career of a professor!

In these letters, he reveals just how deeply he wresded with a faith that had been so much a part of his upbringing. He uses his Christian faith as a subject of his questions, and sees such questioning as key to the development of his thinking. Helene repeatedly comes to his rescue as she tries to prevent his despair. Her example of independence helps him to clarify his motives. She reasons that to be a real Christian is to love Jesus Christ, and to not be taken in by trappings and formalities.

Helene mirrors for Schweitzer his own struggles, while at the same time transforming them for him and helping him on his way. We now too begin to see what Helene became for Albert. She reveals that the exchange of letters meant even more to him than sharing intellec- tual ideas, as above all, she was a trusted listener and confidante. Several months later, Schweitzer writes the most revealing of the letters regarding how he feels about Helene. It is near her thirtieth birthday on the day of December 21st that he usually celebrates with his aunt, reliving the holiday ritual of discussing Immanuel Kant and lighting some pine boughs in the fireplace.

He celebrates it alone in his mind, with the images of the fire, his work on Kant, and now Helene. He wonders about the present and future course of his life while his mind is racing. With 30 years I begin a new life! What will I have in store for me? How can I possibly find fulfillment in my life?

Are there none? Let us wait: how this spirit of life, this mysterious Being that we call God will lead and guide me, the heretic priest. Music and scholarship, though he would not cease activity in these areas, would not be enough to satisfy his restless spirit. The year would be crucial for Albert and Helene, as he decides how to make the decision of what to do with the rest of his life.

His chafing at the expected role of the privatdocent here is palpable, and he tries to convey it to Helene, though he comes to realize that a new life awaits him at age Schweitzer is really struggling with his decision to continue his work. He worries about the amount of time he is spending with his students, and is admonished by his colleagues and supervisor for this commitment.

I wrote that if the description of the atrocities is based on fact, no responsible person could remain a calm observer. In October , Schweitzer finally receives the word from the Paris Missionary Society that he has awaited, and learns that he will be called into service by the society in two years. At once it was a straightforward decision that he saw as reverberating among souls. He saw in the simplicity of those who served in the Congo something that was missing for him, for it was a pureness of motive and spirit that he did not see in his daily life as a minister.

He is relieved that he made this choice, this momentous decision to change the course of his life. The resolution to act in this manner was complicated for Schweitzer of course. But he had no more than this vague idea of a calling.

His family and others are there as he reflects, but as we shall find out, they are opposed to the trip and wonder about his emotional state, while many of his colleagues in his professions think his change of direction in life toward service in Africa is ill advised.

He later talks about how he is giving up his dream of being an educator of the ministry. But it is an education of a different sort that he would be about to embark upon. He rather tries to enlighten his students about happiness, about how they as youth must take advantage of what comes to them, but they are baffled by him. He comes to his decision but only after bouncing the idea off her for feed- back and counsel. At once he focuses on simplicity of thought, as what had crystallized for him, partly due to his restlessness with teach- ing that complicated methods removed from direct experience, and his desire to serve.

He saw in the straightforwardness of those who served in the Congo something that was missing in his life — a purity of motive and spirit that he did not experience as a pastor, professor, or musician. For Schweitzer, the clarity of his mission gave him strength. He is relieved to finally commit himself, and to leave behind what for him had become an anguished and abstract sense of what to do next. He continues to reflect, and these reflections and working out of his thoughts he does most comfortably with Helene and in these letters. Only as we under- stand it, the happiness of those who do not strive for their own, at least not the happiness of those who pursue only their own.

His parents, particularly his mother, do not approve, and he has conflicts with them over his chosen work. His mother wants to know why he seeks fulfillment elsewhere and what is there for him. What Schweitzer saw in the work of those missionaries in the Congo may have been too simple, but it sufficed for him.

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The value of the letters for our understanding is to see how he reveals this slowly to Helene, and how this resolve becomes clearer to him too. He discovers the wellspring of motivation within himself by sharing these ideas with her. She listens and he shares with her. She will have to give up a great deal, your H. He realizes, through what another close woman has said to him, the burden of sacrifice this one must give to him. It is not so much a warning as an admission of what he sees to come in his life. We can ask at this point if Helene come to accept this course in life and will their relationship develop over time?

While may have been the time when Schweitzer came to his decision, this next year is a time to confirm it. Helene sends him a birthday greeting to follow his own road. Their birthday wishes are all so imbued with a sense of mission and common purpose, so different than what one may get with a birthday greeting today. Schweitzer continues with his explorations, and the letters of take on a more introspective quality, where we can see him struggling with deciding what is God. But it is not a personality; it becomes a personality only in us.

As ends, Helene and Albert have accomplished a great deal of the inward work of their spiritual and emotional understanding of the commitment to serve others, and Albert has overcome some doubts with her help and strengthened his resolve. He knows now the path he will take, what will turn out to be his life work.

Helene has accepted his decision, and indeed encouraged him. As begins, Schweitzer sees most clearly how they will develop their life- long partnership. They fall into a pattern of familiarity. He complains of exhaustion, while she admonishes him for being so driven. He has cemented his bond with Helene, and strengthened his determination to carry out a life of service. She is the support for what he wants to do, and affirms him in ways that his family and friends do not. Schweitzer still sees their relationship as a friendship, deepened of course by their devotion to a common ideal.

Albert Schweitzer's Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life

But is the year when their lives would change dramatically. He finishes his studies, and they discuss embarking to Africa. Schweitzer realizes what kind of sacrifice he has asked of himself, and also of Helene much more has he asked: And all these years of waiting you have sacrificed for me — almost ten! The most beautiful years of your life in which you could have had all the happiness that life has to offer for a woman — house, hearth, happiness, children — you have led a life of hard work, shaken by struggles with yourself and your family, full of sadness.

He clearly sees her as a partner in the sacrifice and the duty-bound commitment. While it is beyond the scope of this book to explore the effect Helene had upon Albert in greater detail, we can see in their relationship ways in which it will influence his thought later, especially on educational matters. Clearly what is apparent in the correspondence of this intense, earnest, and disillusioned scholar now embarking on a life of medical service is a passionate commitment that leads to personal sacrifice, which is shared with his future wife, though not equally.

He now is committed to action. Coda: Rhena Not only would Albert spend long periods of time away from his wife, but also their only child, Rhena Schweitzer, who was born on his forty-fourth birthday. Rhena compiled the letters I have drawn upon in this chapter, and she provides further insight into her parents. I interviewed Mrs. Miller twice in March at the home she shared with her daughter and family, high atop a mountain overlooking the ocean in Pacific Palisades, California. Rhena was thrust into taking care of the hospital, with little experience in this area, when her father was dying.

Later, Rhena supported the work of her father by disseminating his ideas and speaking at conferences and workshops. She attended conferences at the Schweitzer institutes at Chapman University in and at Quinnipiac University in I began a correspondence with Rhena several years before meeting her at her home in California in Though she had not met me, she responded promptly and warmly to my letters.

I had gone out to California to spend time with her while also on a research trip to the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Chapman University. I drove to Chapman University after checking into my hotel in Los Angeles. We ate lunch in the sunshine at a small cafe across from the university. Meyer let me consult the Schweitzer archives and make photocopies of some of the Schweitzer memorabilia in the Institute.

I particularly wanted copies of some pictures of Schweitzer I had not seen elsewhere. Meyer prepared me for my meeting with Rhena, saying that she was warm and open, and eager to meet me. I had found that to be the case when I spoke to her on the telephone to arrange the visit. She insisted on giving me explicit directions to where she lived. Rhena told me to come that evening for a concert that Christiane and the Stern Quartet were to give for friends and family. Sunset Boulevard shifts in landscape and composition as it makes its way through Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and finally through Brentwood and Pacific Palisades to the ocean.

I was convinced that it would be easy to find the home, as I had little difficulty finding my way around the well-marked streets and freeways of southern California. It was not so. I drove past the entrance to the street several times, until I finally entered it correctly. Rhena had given me the right directions; I just could not find the turnoff. Heading up the street on a steep incline directly off Sunset in Pacific Palisades, I was again confronted by the unexpected.

It was getting dark, and I kept climbing, past gated driveways, on a winding road to a mountaintop, overlooking the ocean to the west. Finally, I came to the home, and entered with the concert about to begin. I quietly said hello to Rhena, who was seated alone at a dining table toward the back, and then the music started. The Stern Quartet, with Christiane on the piano, played Mozart.

I chatted and ate after the concert with the friends and neighbors, and exchanged a few introductory pleasantries with Rhena. I left feeling that I had been greeted with hospitality and interest, and I was excited for our regularly scheduled visit and conversation the next day. When I arrived back, Christiane greeted me and pointed out spots of interest in the spectacular ocean view from the deck of the house. Rhena was down in her apartment, and I was to go see her there. The apartment was a small house, just a kitchen, bathroom, and combination living area and bedroom, down a steep flight of stairs from the main home where the concert had been the night before.

The main room was large, split by a divider to separate living and sleeping areas. In the divider was a bookshelf and at the end of it, a large bust of her father Albert Schweitzer. Rhena was lucid and spoke vividly from memory of her childhood education. Her father remembered a simple Christian piety and way of life, and wanted his daughter to absorb that: In the intervals of his tours across Europe, Schweitzer established a new base for himself and his family at Konigsfeld in the Black Forest.

The health of his wife required altitude and he built a story-and-a-half house at the edge of a peaceful village, dominated by the presence of the Moravian Brethren Herrenhiter who had a retreat there. From his earliest youth, Schweitzer had felt drawn to the Brethren with their simple Christian spirit, even as he felt drawn toward the friends, and he wanted his daughter, Rhena — now three — to grow up among them and to attend their school.

He himself established close personal relations with many of the Brethren. It obviously made an indelible impression upon her so that she recalled their influence 80 years later. She remembered being taught with forthright directness by the brethren. As she spoke with obvious joy about this experience with the Herrenhiiter, I thought of teaching history and philosophy to prospective teachers at my university. Comenius was more than that, as I found out later. The great educator of the seventeenth century was part of the Moravian Brethren order.

In addition to champ- ioning universal education, he proposed an idea of stages of development and what we now call age-appropriate instruction. The means toward this piety was universal knowledge that he laid out with fervor in his chief work, The Great Didactic.

Rhena simply had noted that her own time with the Herrenhiiter and their example of teaching and caring formed her own ideals of education. I would have wanted to know what the school was like, whether her father ever talked to her in any depth about what she learned from the brethren, and how instruction, and more importantly, their example of pious living, had affected her later in life. We continued to drink tea, sitting at a modest table a few feet from a large bust of her father, and talked for a few hours. And then it was time to go to the main house. Rhena and I climbed up the stairs, and with my cheap camera I snapped her as she rose out of the ground to the level of the house.

She scolded me good naturedly for taking this picture. The picture I took reminded me of those pictures of her father sawing the okoume wood to remake his hospital, and tending to other manual tasks. He did many things himself, simply and without fanfare, and I could see that his daughter took after him.

Reverence For Life - Albert Schweitzer -

I recalled the anecdote about Harry S. Truman, who when asked what he did after he stepped down as president, stated that he took the luggage and put it in the attic. There we again chatted, at the reception for the keynote speaker, Jane Goodall, but the next day Rhena had a health emergency and was unable to participate in a panel discussion.

I spoke to her on the telephone a few times after that, and she was pleased with what I showed her of this book. I wish I had completed it before she died. Image 3. Can we learn, from his fateful decision to go to Africa, about the kinds of decisions made by teachers and other educators, as they commit themselves to a life of service? This casual remark has meaning in this context, for the continuum of decisions made by educators about their work links the missionary zeal at one end to the more measured and ordinary decision to teach made by students in education programs at colleges and universities every year.

Though the decision making is similar to that of one deciding to teach, such decisions by prospective teachers are not usually as extreme as that of Schweitzer, except in unusual circumstances. A Momentous Decision As Schweitzer reflected when he and Helene were about to go to Lambarene, what appealed to him about being a doctor there was that he could just act. He assured his sponsor, the Paris Missionary Society, whose leaders were concerned about his unorthodox religious writings, that he would not preach. The narrative already established is that Schweitzer decided to leave his scholarly and artistic life at age 30 and devote himself to service.

He sought salvation through his work due to a deep concern for what he thought was a decaying European culture. Schweitzer parted company with the pessimistic writings of Spengler and Nietzsche, making committed action his means of cultural and spiritual regeneration. He often said that he wanted to make his life his argument. Such a decision has moral importance, whether it be extreme as with Schweitzer, or less so.

For Schweitzer, it was a turn toward action and to others, away from the scholarly life as he had experi- enced it. Education here is simply not just acquisition of knowledge, but a passionate commitment of the person toward a specific path and goal, that of service toward others. Though it was a momentous decision that affected his life and that of others profoundly, the biographical evidence, especially letters that Schweitzer exchanged with his future wife, Helene Bresslau, discussed in the previous chapter, builds the case that this fateful decision grew in depth and commitment over time and with the aid of dialogue and loving struggle.

Schweitzer decided to lead a life devoted to others in Africa, far in distance and environment from where he grew up and made his initial reputation, and, as it turned out, away from his wife, Helene, and daughter, Rhena, for all but the initial years. He saw something beyond the everyday teaching and learning of lessons.

This call for service has been discussed in detail by the educational philosopher David T. While it is certainly the case that there are many great and even more good and dedicated teachers, this happy fact does not preclude the inspi- ration afforded by someone like Schweitzer. For if we are to only see Schweitzer as the legend then we cannot see what the concrete contributions from both his thinking and his practice might be. Thus I am approaching vocation from a slightly different angle than Hansen. I want to pull away the shroud around Schweitzer, and show that what he did has practical import, but that his example in its extraordinariness and mystery can also provide a way to enhance and deepen our current educational theory and practice.

Vocation is not something that is selfless and ascetic either. When one embarks upon a vocation, one may not be fully convinced or settled, as Hansen further points out. This opening is part of successful teaching. For Hansen, the teachers he studies feel uncomfortable with grand illusions. They are not heroes and do not think of themselves as heroic.

Schweitzer was keenly aware of what might be called an occupational hazard of doing good works. This occupational hazard played out publicly for Schweitzer, on a world stage. Most teachers will not have people give up their lives to follow their work as Schweitzer did, and Hansen points out that Schweitzer admonished these would-be disciples to go home. The work Schweitzer undertook at Lambarene is just too complex and difficult to harbor those with rosy views of selflessly helping the down- trodden.

Employed uncriti- cally, the concept can trigger images of self-sacrifice and devotion that may be appropriate for the likes of Mother Teresa. What this student and others want is more of what they deem substance that they can engage with and discuss. For this student and others like her, inspiration is simply not enough.