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Spirituality Benefits Civilizations: Selections from “The Philosophy of Civilization and Ethics” by the Reverend Dr. Albert Schweitzer (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

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Today, we are delighted to share excerpts from the book “The Philosophy of Civilization and Ethics,” whereby Reverend Dr. Albert Schweitzer details the importance of spiritual development in creating peaceful and harmonious societies.

Chapter 1 The Crisis in Civilization and it’s Spiritual Cause

“Our civilization is going through a severe crisis. Most people think that the crisis is due to the war, but they are wrong. The war, with everything connected with it, is only a phenomenon of the condition of uncivilization in which we find ourselves. Even in States which took no part in the war, and on which the war had no direct influence, civilization is shaken, only the fact is not so clearly evident in them as in those which were hard hit by the consequences of its peculiarly cruel spiritual and material happenings.”

“To begin with, there is one elementary fact which is quite obvious. The disastrous feature of our civilization is that it is far more developed materially than spiritually. Its balance is disturbed. Through the discoveries which now place the forces of Nature at our disposal in such an unprecedented way, the relations to each other of individuals, of social groups, and of States have undergone a revolutionary change. Our knowledge and our power have been enriched and increased to an extent that no one would have thought possible. We have thereby been enabled to make the conditions of human existence incomparably more favorable in numerous respects, but in our enthusiasm over our progress in knowledge and power we have arrived at a defective conception of civilization itself. We value too highly its material achievements, and no longer keep in mind as vividly as is necessary the importance of the spiritual element in life. Now come the facts to summon us to reflect. They tell us in terribly harsh language, that a civilization which develops only on its material side, and not in corresponding measure in the sphere of the spirit, is like a ship with defective steering gear which gets out of control at a constantly accelerating pace, and thereby heads for catastrophe.”

“Its fate depends on whether or not thought keeps control over facts. The issue of a voyage does not depend on whether the vessel’s speed is a little faster or a little slower, but on whether it follows the right course, and its steering gear keeps in good condition. […]”
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