How cruel can people get

Quotes from Albert Schweitzer

In the extensive work of Albert Schweitzer there are still many inspiring thoughts and sayings, among others. on ethics, life, animals and animal welfare, but also on topics such as the power of the individual and persuasion. We have compiled some of the most rewarding ones below.

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Thinking | Reverence for life | Ethics | Progress | Happiness | Action and devotion | Power and effectiveness of the individual | People | Empathize and experience | Animals and animal welfare | Persuasion | vegetarianism


"Refraining from thinking is a mental declaration of bankruptcy."

“We must never be dulled. We are in the truth when we experience the conflicts deeper and deeper. The good conscience is an invention of the devil. "

"Thinking with the heart is the right way for people."

"When there will be more thinking among people, there will also be more love in the world."

Reverence for life

“People who have become thinking experience the compulsion to show all will to live the same respect for life as they do for their own. He experiences the other life in his own. To him it is considered good to preserve life, promote life, bring developable life to its highest value. As evil: destroy life, damage life, hold down developable life. This is the essential, universal, absolute basic principle of the ethical. "

"We are connected to everything that lives through an affinity and a community of fate."

“To a person who has attained the ethic of reverence for life, all life as such is sacred. He is afraid of killing an insect or tearing off a flower. He saves the worm that is languishing in the street by laying it on the grass. "

"The reverence for life, to which we humans have to arrive, includes everything in itself that can be considered as love, devotion, pity, shared joy, striving."

"If a person is touched by the ethics of reverence for life, he damages and destroys life only out of necessity, from which he cannot escape, never out of thoughtlessness."

“Wherever I damage any life, I must be clear about whether it is necessary. I am not allowed to go beyond the inevitable, not even in the seemingly insignificant. "


"Ethics is unlimited responsibility towards everything that lives."

"Man is only ethical when life as such, that of the plant and animal as well as that of man, is sacred to him and he gives himself to help in life that is in need."

"Ethics is a creative activity of many."

"The great enemy of morality is dulling."

"The ethical cannot grow on egotistical soil."

"Ethics has to deal with three opponents: with thoughtlessness, with selfish self-assertion and with society."

"True ethics begin where the use of words ends."


"Progress: when misery is sought."

"In the hope of reaching the moon, man forgets to look at the flowers that bloom at his feet."


"Keeping life is the only happiness."

"Experiencing the happiness around us with the good that we can create ourselves is the only happiness that makes life bearable for us."

"Only those are happy who let their hearts determine them."

"I have become a person who is a bit dangerous for others because I represent the idea among them that all the happiness we experience means that we have to give something of our life for it."

Action and devotion

"By placing myself in the service of the living, I achieve meaningful, world-oriented doing."

"You have to do something, no matter how little, for those who need help, something that brings no reward, but the joy of being able to do it."

"You can work on the good in the world."

A final conclusion can be drawn from the principle of devotion: it no longer allows us to deal exclusively with human beings, but obliges us to behave in the same way towards all living things, the fate of which is subject to our influence. It is also our kind; because like us it knows the longing for happiness, fear and suffering, and like us it is afraid of annihilation. "

"Anyone who intends to work well must not expect that people will clear stones out of his way because of it, but must be prepared for the fateful thing that they will roll some on it."

»We all have to be prepared for the fact that life will rob us of our belief and enthusiasm for what is good and true. But we don't need to reveal it to him. "

“Don't worry about traditional prejudices, don't be afraid to be ridiculous, take action. What you do is part of being human. "

"If you act according to responsibility and conscience and not from thoughtlessness, you are right."

Power and effectiveness of the individual

“And then they let themselves [people] too easily become discouraged by the consideration that the individual can do nothing, and then come to where most of them stand, that they just don't want to see or hear anything about all the misery; they think it doesn't exist because they live as if it weren't there for them. That is wrong and cowardly. Here the individual can do a lot. I'm not talking about the fact that actually everyone should be a member of the animal welfare association; because what is the minimum contribution of one mark per year that this association raises and that most of us can afford despite the bad times, compared to what it does well in terms of instruction and influence! One is mistaken about what the individual can achieve. He can do more than you think. "

"The little you can do is a lot - if only you take pain and ailment and fear from a being somewhere, be it human, be it any creature."

»Whatever kindness a person gives out into the world works on people's hearts and minds. Our foolish omission is that we dare not take him seriously with goodness. We want to shift the great burden without using the lever that multiplies the force a hundredfold. "

"Only when the individuals work as spiritual forces on themselves and on society is there a chance that the problems created by the facts will be solved and that total progress will be made that is valuable in every respect."

“I believe that we all have something in us that ignites when we see and get to know others, and that we are all a light for others. In my life I have had the experience that some little thing that someone does drives others and carries them on. "


“Little of the great amount of cruelty practiced by humans really comes at the expense of cruel urges. Most of it comes from inherited habit and thoughtlessness. So cruelty does not have very solid, but widely ramified roots. That is why it takes so much effort to eradicate them. But the time must come when the inhumanity, protected from habit and thoughtlessness, will succumb to the humanity advocated by thought. Let's work on it to come. "

"The people of the future will be the ones who let their hearts speak in their thoughts."

“Usually all good thoughts are fuel in people. But much of this fuel only ignites, or even more so, when a flame or a little flame from outside, from another person, strikes it. "

Empathize and experience

“In no way can we be induced to want to silence the voice of humanity within us. Compassion for all creatures is what really makes people human. "

"When you become numb to compassion, you also lose the experience of other people's happiness."

"With pity, there is also the ability to be happy."

"To experience means to feel responsible for everything that happens in our area."

Animals and animal welfare

“Anyone who has looked into this abyss of torment, which humans bring upon animals, sees no more light; it lies like a shadow over everything, and he can no longer rejoice freely. "

“The animals are our brothers, big and small. Only in this knowledge do we arrive at true humanity. St. Francis of Assisi (1182 to 1226) recognized this brotherhood between man and creature. But people didn't understand. They said it was poetry. But it is the truth. Religion and philosophy must recognize it. They fought against it in vain. "

»What was still often viewed as inappropriate sentimentality is being taken more and more seriously. Animal welfare associations come into being. They are not satisfied with having an educational effect, but demand and achieve it that the legislature takes care of the creatures and punishes the merciless procedure with them. "

"The animals cannot speak, yet they think much more than we imagine."

“Have you never heard the oxen and cows crammed into the wagons at the train station scream in the summer? The impartial think they scream out of boredom. But anyone who knows the screams of animals knows that they are screaming with hunger and thirst, and whoever asks how long they drive without getting a little straw and a drop of water, their hair stands on end, even if the train does When he hurries through meadows and fields for a long time, he still hears the cry of the animals dying of thirst. "

"Sometimes an animal is an example of loyalty to us that we might not have been able to be."

"We must never let a living being suffer or kill for pleasure or to pass the time."

"It is the sacred duty of parents to urge their children to show mercy towards animals, so that their hearts do not become brutal."

»Even towards the unsympathetic and harmful animal, we must always remain aware of our responsibility in each individual case, that we are only allowed to kill it when there is a need and then we have to make up our minds to do this with the least agonizing means. We must not be cruel out of fear and reluctance either. "


“I notice in others and in myself that we often speak up wrongly for the abused creature; we do it in anger, with strong rebellion or scolding and turn people against us with a semblance of justice because of the way in which we mingle in things, and then have to attribute it to ourselves when we say a harsh "That works You will not hear anything about "where a calm and friendly word would not have aroused such defiance in the other."

"The best diplomacy is objectivity."

"Objectivity protects against exuberance."

"Respond to reviews with performance."

"Creating something new has more value than protesting."

"We never have to criticize, we have to improve."

"My strategy is never to respond to an attack of any kind."

“I never answer a bump. Everything that is spoken against me and written against me runs down on me like water on a goose. "

“Fear to appear magnanimous to people; be afraid of appearing that way to yourself. "

"It is not the quantity but the quality of the work that counts."

"The mere establishment of virtues and duties is like someone strumming on the piano and thinking they are making music."

“Not a ray of sunshine is lost. But the green it awakens takes time to sprout, and the sower is not always destined to witness the harvest. "


"In general, I believe, people will come to limit their meat diet or to abstain from it altogether."

»My view is that we, who advocate the protection of animals, completely renounce meat consumption and also speak against it. So I'll do it myself. "*


Some of the quotations presented on this page have been summarized under different keywords than in the source works by R. Brüllmann and E. Weber.