Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer, M.D., OM, (January 14, 1875 – September 4, 1965) was a German Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. He was born in Kaysersberg, Alsace-Lorraine, Germany (now in Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France). He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in 1953, for founding the Lambaréné Hospital in Gabon, a nation of west central Africa.

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Albert Schweitzer Quotes

A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.

A man can do only what he can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day.

A man does not have to be an angel in order to be saint.

A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.

An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while the pessimist sees only the red stoplight. The truly wise person is colorblind.

Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly, even if they roll a few stones upon it.

As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins.

As we acquire more knowldege, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.

By having a reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world By practicing reverence for life we become good, deep, and alive.

Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Day by day we should weigh what we have granted to the spirit of the world against what we have denied to the spirit of Jesus, in thought and especially in deed.

Do not let Sunday be taken from you If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.

Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.

Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.

Everything deep is also simple and can be reproduced simply as long as its reference to the whole truth is maintained. But what matters is not what is witty but what is true.

Example is leadership.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

I can do no other than be reverent before everything that is called life. I can do no other than to have compassion for all that is called life. That is the beginning and the foundation of all ethics.

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.

I have always held firmly to the thought that each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end.

I wanted to be a doctor that I might be able to work without having to talk because for years I had been giving myself out in words.

If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life.

Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them.

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

Let me give you a definition of ethics: It is good to maintain and further life it is bad to damage and destroy life.

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.

Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.

Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.

Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will - his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals.

One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.

One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history.

One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.

Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.

Reverence for life affords me my fundamental principle of morality.

Reverence for life is the highest court of appeal.

Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. For remember, you don't live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.

Serious illness doesn't bother me for long because I am too inhospitable a host.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.

The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.

The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.

The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier character.

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.

This new form of activity medicine I could not represent to myself as talking about the religion of love, but only as an actual putting it into practice.

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now - always.

Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.

We cannot possibly let ourselves get frozen into regarding everyone we do not know as an absolute stranger.

Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.

Whoever is spared personal pain must feel himself called to help in diminishing the pain of others. We must all carry our share of the misery which lies upon the world.

Whosoever is spared personal pain must feel himself called to help in diminishing the pain of others.

Why seeketh thou revenge, O man! with what purpose is it that thou pursuest it? Thinkest thou to pain thine adversary by it? Know that thou thyself feelest its greatest torments.

Quotes originally compiled by

Albert Schweitzer Chronological Biography

January 14, 1875 -- Albert Schweitzer born at Kayserberg, Alsace* to Adele Schillinger Schweitzer and Lutheran Pastor, Louis Schweitzer.

1880- 1884 -- Attended village school, Gunsbach.

1885-1893 -- Student at gymnasium, Mulhausen.

1893 -- Began studies, University of Strasbourg; also studied organ in Paris.

April 1894-April 1895 -- Served required military service.

1896-1899 -- Studied at Sorbonne and University of Berlin; also studied organ in Paris and Berlin. Began giving concerts. Published first book.

1899 -- Received doctorate of philosophy, University of Strasbourg.

1900 -- Received a licentiate degree in theology; ordained as curate.

January 14, 1905 -- Age 30; made decision to study medicine and go to Africa.

1906. Began medical studies, University of Strasbourg.

1912. Married Hélène Bresslau.

1913. Completed internship and received M.D. degree. Left for Africa.

1914-17 -- Considered enemy alien by French authorities, but could continue medical practice.

September, 1915 -- After years of searching, he finds the words, Reverence for Life, that sum up his philosophy.

1917 -- The Schweitzers transferred to France as civilian interns.

1918 -- Returned to Alsace in poor health.

1919-1923 -- Daughter born, recovered health, lectured widely, practiced medicine, gave organ concerts, preached, wrote and published books, including the two-volume Philosophy of Civilization.

1924-1927--Returned to Africa; rebuilt hospital at new location.

1927-1939 -- Made several trips to and from Africa. Lectured widely and played organ throughout Europe.

1939-1948 -- Remained in Lambarene during World War II. Mrs. Schweitzer joins him after hazardous escape from Europe.

1949. First and only trip to the United States.

1954 -- Accepts in Oslo, Norway the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize and gold replica of the Albert Schweitzer Medal of the Animal Welfare Institute.

May 30, 1957 -- Death of Hélène Schweitzer in Switzerland.

December 4, 1957 -- Returned to Lambarene for the thirteenth and last time.

1958 -- 1963 --Worked for nuclear test ban treaty. Period of great expansion at hospital. He has become one of the world's leading citizens.

May 6, 1963 -- Endorsed a U.S. Senate bill to reduce laboratory animal suffering.

March, 1965 -- His dogs, cats and monkeys put to death by authorities due to rabies epidemic.

September 4, 1965 -- Died at Lambarene. Age 90.

Chronology taken from

(For more information see Wikipedia)


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