Thoughts from Linda:
In the age of COVID-19, there are certain individuals who I often reflect on and send my great appreciation for as I think about their lives of service. There are two people involved with this book who have given of themselves, generously and in the truest model of servant leadership. One is the editor/author: David Ives and the second is the subject of this book, Albert Schweitzer. Both are such inspirational models of what is possible when we are 'fully human.'
I was introduced to this book by my friend and colleague, David Ives. We send David a big thank YOU for your service as a global citizen, going back to your own days int he Peace Corps and your work as the Executive Director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac University.
I first met David in Piacenza, Italy in 2006 at a global event for World Centers of Compassion for Children, organized by our mutual friend, Betty Williams--Nobel Laureate for her amazing work in Northern Ireland. David and I subsequently worked together on the Board of WCCCI and over the next few years attended many a global conference sponsored by the Gorbachev Foundation, designed to educate and inspire youth of various countries.
David is one of the finest current examples of a global citizen I know. (he is also a superb teller of jokes and wins the award for the ‘corniest!)
This book, specifically, arose from a Conference he hosted at Quinnipiac University in 2005. As the Acknowledgments section notes, the book is the result of this Conference and is a tribute to the many faculty, advisors and sponsors, who he graciously notes in that section.
For me personally, the opportunity to spot and acknowledge specific individuals in world history who have lived lives of service is a true joy.
Albert Schweitzer is one such individual. I’m not sure how well-known he is today, much less, his legacy from which we can all learn. His shoulders are ones we should eagerly climb upon metaphorically to leave our own mark and inspire others.
As called out in the book, Schweitzer was one of the greatest persons of the 20th century. Before he was 30, he had earned one doctorate in philosophy and two degrees in theology. A musician extraordinaire, at age 30 he entered medical school and spent his life serving others in Africa. He was the first European to go to Africa with the intent of alleviating suffering instead of exploiting its vast resources and its people.
As he said, he would make “his life his argument.”
This is not a pure biography, but rather an interpretation in each chapter, which is written by an acknowledged expert in the domain, of Schweitzer’s moral and ethical philosophy and teaching as relevant to us today. For example, there is a timely chapter on “Producing Character in a Consuming Society” and another on “The Reverence for Live and the Environment.”
This book begins with an additional plus. Jane Goodall, another amazing individual of the past century gave the opening address and it is reprinted in full in the forward. As a past teacher of anthropology and huge fan, I can hear her voice as she tells her own personal story in this speech, called “Reason for Hope.” If all you do is to read this, you’ll learn a lot and gain tremendous insight into a woman with a vision for our planet!
She so expresses the Kofi Annan message: “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.”