I believe if we based our thoughts, decisions and actions on the principle of ‘Reverence for Life’ we would live in a very different world. Imagine everyone thoughtfully taking responsibility for all of life within their reach and being devoted to helping that life. Imagine humanity seeing itself as stewards of life rather than exploiters and consumers of life. Imagine yourself reverencing every creature as a close relative and friend.
I spent significant time in the second quarter of my life exploring the inner realities of Native American ethics and spirituality. For many nations, harmony with all of life was essential. Their attitudes were filled with reverence. Every prayer was for ‘all our relatives’ which included the four legged, the two legged, the ones that creep and crawl, those who root and rock, swim and fly, and the ones we can’t even see.
Chief Joseph of the Pacific Northwest speaks to us from all directions. “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Today, we think nothing of fishing out the oceans, putting environmental issues at the bottom of legislative lists, trampling on human rights, clear cutting forests, polluting rivers and streams, exploiting whatever’s possible, and not respecting the dignity of every human being or any other being. Is it possible that the weaker our reverence for natural life, the weaker also for Life in general? Does there seem to be a pattern here?
For truly ethical persons, all Life is sacred and part of the Whole. We are all part of the Source of Life and culpable for caring. This requires a Thoughtfulness that knows of the responsibility each bears for any life that is sacrificed, human or no. Awareness and Reverence are required in order to keep the balance of nature and our participation as fellow sojourners with ‘all our relatives.’ A pioneer for a new Renaissance? Who me?
It seems that many of us are finally waking up from our sleep to realize that each of us play a significant part in this cosmic drama. I’m not writing this post to you from a tipi or a primitive cabin or from under a bridge in some nameless city. I’m not going to bed hungry tonight and I’m not raising my own food any longer. I’m as much a part of the problem as anyone and I’m also part of the solution which is why I’m speaking up here.
Albert Schweitzer wrote the above quote over eighty years ago. We need pioneers of a New Renaissance now more than ever. Next steps? More Reverence and Awareness, more Consciousness, Honesty, Determination, Persistence, and Action. The ethic of a ‘Reverence for Life’ is the ethic of Love widened into universality. It’s time is NOW.