No. 164



The late Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) was one of the finest human beings to ever grace this planet. Born in the Alsace region of France, during his long life he would become a missionary, theologian, doctor, philosopher, author and musician. Having resolved to devote his life to the service of humanity when he reached the age of 30, Schweitzer prepared by qualifying in medicine, and in 1913 he went to Lambar'ene' in French Equatorial Africa where founded a missionary hospital.

His hospital was supported almost entirely by proceeds from his many organ recitals in Europe and numerous lecture tours and publications. Always a leading exponent of JoHann Von Goethe, he came to the United States in 1949 to deliver an address at the Goethe Celebration in Aspen, Colorado. During his notable discourse he shared his faith in two basic ideals: "Purity and Kindness." He would later be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

When I read about Dr. Schweitzer and studied various aspects of his life, I was greatly impressed by how he used his God given talents. One of the things I most admire and appreciate about Dr. Schweitzer and his exemplary life, is that he was a trend setter. He gave us a standard, as a human being, that we would do well to try to emulate. Of course there have been others over the years, too numerous to mention, but were it not for great men and women who routinely placed others before self, the human condition would be much worse off.

Now, you may not share my convictions, but it seems in these days of the "me" generation here in America that we need people who will take a stand and live by Dr. Schweitzer's ideals of purity and kindness. Pure in the sense that our ethical character and morals are above reproach and that more of our citizens will develop a spirit of kindness that always considers the needs and feelings of others, as well as their own.

At this point I realize that to some people what I am saying sounds like Pollyanna but believe me, it's real life. I'm sure you know that an individual can become "world class" in many fields of endeavor and still be a lousy human being. Unfortunately, what these people miss is that when they come to the end of their life and stand before a Holy and Righteous God, they will not be judged on their accomplishments but on what kind of life they lived. Every week I see people who are changing their lives because they finally realize that what I am saying is true. Here it should be noted that what I am advocating is in no way meant to diminish the "spirit of competition" that has helped us individually and collectively as Americans to achieve great things.

We should always play hard and play to win, but always within the rules of decency and fair play. Whether it's in business, sports, politics or any other area of society, to win by any other means is shallow indeed. To my way of thinking we should reward those who play by the rules and disqualify those who don't. While not easy, the answer to our national ethical and moral crisis is simple. We just have to emulate Dr. Schweitzer's ideals of Purity and Kindness. The greatest power we have as a free people is the power to choose. We can choose what kind of leaders we have, what kind of government we have and most important of all, we can choose what kind of person we want to be.

What I want you to see is that if enough people feel this way and will take a stand we can make a difference. I'm hoping and praying that these thoughts will resonate and you will think about what I've shared here. The past is gone but from this point forward let's pledge that we will strive to be better human beings. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)