I am lucky enough to be close to and have access to our magnificent Library of Birmingham - the largest public library in Europe - and undertake research for whatever takes my fancy on a local note ... Aston Villa FC or Birmingham local history.
For some weeks now I have been trawling through the daily evening newspapers of this place for the 1930s period, and what strikes me in particular is that the local daily of that time has so much in it to read that is interesting. Today's local popular papers usually contain bite-size chunks for the reader to consume, and no major articles for the intellect to engage in other than advice about dieting and money-making. They say there are other newspapers that are produced for that purpose, and I suppose it's just an indication of how times have changed. But today we say we are more educated. I wonder if that is really true?
In the 1930s, local papers even talked in depth about real politics and also philosophy and philosophers, and also about local history as though it mattered that Birmingham had a past that we should be proud about.
On the same kind of issue, I listen to (and read!) what the statesmen of the world are now talking of and I am struck by the banality of the dialogue. What is their basis - their philosophy; is it just about how to deal with migration and how to economically grow? I wonder.
Well, I also have the good fortune to possess a book about Dr. Albert Schweitzer, entitled "A Treasury of Albert Schweitzer". It is a treasure, I assure you, as the great doctor reveals his inner thoughts and the history of his life; a man that started out studying theology and philosophy and yet at the age of 29 decided to study medicine and then practice charitable medical service in the depths of Africa. He and Winston Churchill were contemporaries and died at roughly the same time and at a similar age, but it is Schweitzer that resonates with me as the greatest. That may be slightly unfair as Churchill had his own fate to live, and he lived it his way, but Schweitzer comes over to me as the complete human being. And amongst his talents were his ability as an organist combined with real knowledge on how to actually build an organ using classical principles!
Schweitzer's notes convey just what he thought we should be addressing in the West. Please read this example entitled "The Goal Of True Thought":
Whereas the thoughtless modern world walks aimlessly about in ideals of knowledge, skills, and power, the goal of true and profound thought is the spiritual and ethical perfection of man. This requires a new ethical civilization that seeks peace and renounces war. Only the kind of thinking dominated by reverence for life can bring lasting peace to our world. All lesser efforts for peace must forever remain unsuccessful.
A new renaissance must come, and it must be much greater than the one that lifted the world out of the Middle Ages. This new renaissance must help mankind to advance from the pathetic sense of reality in which he lives, toward the spirit of reverence for life. Only through it can mankind be saved from destruction, from its senseless and cruel wars. It alone can bring about peace in the world.Would that the world's leaders read and think on these words.
Thank you for reading this.