Reverence For Life

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I’ve been reading and writing about wolves, cormorants, elk, and many other creatures who are being killed off by BlogImage-3549mankind in the name of  conservation. Whether he/she be a hunter killing game, a rancher who employs lethal predator control, or an ecologist who justifies killing in the name of controlling Nature’s ecosystems, I am deeply disturbed by it all – especially since there are life respecting alternatives in all cases. And, with this respect for life comes a solution to our ecological crisis and a healthy environment.

So, please forgive me, dear reader, if I “vent” by offering to you the words of someone who expresses my feelings and ethics on the subject far better than I can.   

Late on the third day, at the very moment when at sunset we were making our way through a herd of hippopotamuses, there flashed upon my mind, unforeseen and unsought: “Reverence for Life.”


“Who among us knows what significance any other kind of life has in itself, as a part of the universe? For the truly ethical man, all life is sacred, including that which from the human point of view seems lower in scale. If a person has been touched by the ethic of Reverence for Life, he injures and destroys life only when he cannot avoid doing so, and never from thoughtlessness.


“Every person is born with the concept:

” ‘ I am life which wills to live, in the midst of life which wills to live’. From this conflict comes death and destruction. But if he understands Reverence for Life, at last the will-to-live, that fierce affirmative force which holds us all by the throat vanishes. In its place there is only the will-to-love, and the blessings of healing, and the sense of communion with all living things.”


–  From: “Out of My Life and Thought”

               by Albert Schweitzer, 1875-1965


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Thanks for reading this blog post. The purpose for these blogs is to develop a dialog between myself and my readers.

The topic of reverence for life runs very deep with me. I would love to hear your view. You are encouraged to offer your comments in the space provided below.


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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

21 thoughts on “Reverence For Life”

  1. Hi Bill,

    I strongly agree. We need to foster a reverence for life, and doing so may be prerequisite to ecological sustainability for humanity (and thus most of the rest of the biosphere). What keeps me up at night is fostering the transition from a worldview that sees nature as resources ready to be exploited to relatives worthy of our reverence. Ultimately, I see no other way than to begin this Great Work with a transformation of education. We must move toward parenting and schooling that includes abundant time outdoors engaged in experiential learning. Adults need not worry so much about teaching as mentoring, the art of asking provocative questions and co-creating a learning environment with children.

    Ok, that’s my rant for the morning. Hope you’re doing well


    1. Once again Scott, we are totally on the same page. I’m privileged to be part of environmental education programs throughout the community here in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. It is very gratifying to see a strengthening environmental consciousness with our youth. On occasion, I see entire Mexican and American families who are visiting our beaches grab a bag and walk around picking up trash. Little by little.

      Your writings on this subject are very inspiring, Scott. For my blog readers, your URL is: .

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the words of Albert Schweitzer. Our family just watched the new documentary “Black Fish”- it’s incredible and certainly highlights the reverence for life. This blog post came at the perfect time!

  3. I first ran across Schweitzer’s words when I was a freshman wildlife biology student. They rang so much more true to me than the “maximum sustainable yield” stuff the professors were dishing out that I changed my major to zoology. “Reverence for life” as described by Schweitzer continues to be my guiding principle. I find the vehement anti-wolf, gun-happy rhetoric that is so prevalent on the internet these days to be very disturbing. I hope is is media sensationalism, but the fact that there appears to be a rather large contingent of people who find pleasure in brutally murdering animals is truly sad and scary. Thank you for sharing this post.

  4. Hi, Bill,
    As you know, we are not vegetarians, and we hunt for part of what we eat. I’m not blessed with a lot of money, and that hunted meat has been a lifesaver as I go through school. I can tell you every catch is blessed and appreciated, and never taken lightly.

    “Reverence for Life” has a lot of implications, vegetarianism among them – although plants are life, too. We need a whole-world look at what this means and where we accept killing of plants and animals on behalf of our continued sustenance.

    Not everyone is the same, and I am not denying that life is sometimes taken wantonly. “Slob hunters” (which is what we call them) are the worst. But not everyone that kills, whether by hunting or by having someone else do it so we can buy it safely prepackaged, is evil.

    Hard to draw the line. We do need a full discussion on this, globally.


    1. Actually, I was thinking about you and Larry when I wrote this blog post. I am not a vegetarian either. And, I am not against sustenance hunting. But, on the whole, we are a society with grocery stores nearby. I fail to see the value with most hunting. I abhor trophy hunting. And I’m definitely against the government “managing” wildlife through killing – particularly since most of this activity to is make the ranchers happy. Outside of subsistence hunting, I have pretty strong feelings (and a strong scientific basis) about the killing of any wildlife. Instead, an ethic of living in harmony together is how I choose to live and believe.

  5. I understand the need to only kill when necessary. But when it is a cockroach in my kitchen or fire ants where I stand to hang the laundry….my reverence for their “life” dies faster than the insect itself under my wrath. (Okay, make that squeamishness or fear.)

    Are there options of which I am not aware?

    1. As hoped, this blog post is bringing on interesting responses and questions. That’s exactly what I hoped it would do. Does anyone want to address Sylvia’s issue/question???

  6. Having been an ardent environmentalist since childhood, I find these comments heartening. I have, however, a side bar, to wit, I fail to see how we can develop a true reverence for wild life if we do not revere human life equally. Just as we hold sacred every moose, doe, sow, or cougar we must hold sacred every child, man, woman and our own selves. We don’t, for the most part, yet our connection to the All and every part is extant. We must start honoring every connection or the connections will die. Education regarding the uniqueness and value of all is imperative.
    Thank you all and you, Bill, for your work. Thank you.


    1. Well said Gwenie!!! As you and many others have noted, learning to honor oneself is key to environmental stability. I am impressed by an article by nature photographer Rafael Rojas which, in part, says:

      “Rojas’ quest is to remind us, the first generation of humans totally detached from the natural world, about the necessity of our connection to the earth. “For millions of years we lived as another species,” Rojas says, “grounded to our natural environment. Cities have become the new ecosystem for us, an artificially created one where, from one day to the next, we have eliminated ancestral experiences so basic to our natural history. That has created a void, which we have tried to fill with equally artificial tools or goodies—like money, career, success, commercial malls and technology. That urban world and those goodies keep us busy, and alienated in most cases, and it is virtually impossible for us to remember what happened to that natural world our ancestors enjoyed. So when we come with the idea of protecting it, how are people going to react? It is difficult to realize the need to protect something you do not know exists—even more so when that would compromise your ‘real’ source of happiness: those same goodies that we created. How do you trade the car for a bike to protect a polar bear you only see on TV? Why change oil for sustainable sources of energy when the coast of Alaska is far from most of us?”

  7. Here is a Paiute Indian saying that I saw at Pipe Spring National Monument this past summer.

    “We remain connected to this land that has sustained us from the beginning of time. We have been able to survive because we live with Nature and respect the land – it’s plants, animals, and water. These precious resources will continue to provide life to the People as long as we care for those gifts from the Creator. Living in harmony with the environment provides security, happiness, and well being in our lives. We care for this land and thank the Creator for all that surrounds us.”

  8. @Sylvia@Sylvia

    While i think your question is of a literal sense “what can you do about fire ants or spiders or other creepy crawlies other than killing them” i am going to go all philosophical, so apologies if your question is not answered. In my opinion your options are really only limited to your choices … how do you choose to live? how do you choose to interact with the world around you? what do you decide? These are the real questions, the meat and potato’s of conservation.

    I understand your speaking about ants … however, i cannot get passed the notion that somewhere, something regards me as no more than an annoying nuisance, an ant trolling about underfoot. With that in mind i personally try to remember that it took billions of years or possibly the entire Life of the Universe for me and that spider to show up in the same room in the same space at the same time … now, having considered the awesomeness of time, Life and the present moment i try to choose wisely for me what i think is best … what i think CAN BE THE ULTIMATE OUTCOME. I stopped killing all creatures (unless they can harm me or my family cuz uh yeah, i am at one so to speak, not at dumb (its a jungle out there, kill or be killed is sometimes a … law or effect of having to survive in a mixed up world).

    Since i stopped squishing spiders … i have never felt better

    1. Well, I have a confession to make. I actually talk to the ants, spiders, and cockroaches in my house. It is probably more of a meditative exercise for me. My talking to Nature reminds me of my need to respect all of life. But, I also am very much in tune with Nature’s cycle of life which includes all of us eating something that is part of Nature. Each of us must follow our own conscience and needs. I do draw the line with ranchers killing predators, with hunters who aren’t hunting for basic subsistence, and those stewards of Nature who feel that killing animals is somehow ecologically appropriate when indeed they are serving special interest groups.

      I am so glad I put this topic up on my blog. It is wonderful to share our views on the subject. I thank all of you for this really great dialog.

  9. @William Graham – Thank you for your specificity. I think I was a bit hasty using the adjectives “soft” and “dumb”. A lot goes into wanting a harmless insect to simply … stay alive, a person is not necessarily soft for wanting this of course. As well and indubitably our instincts, reflexes, emotions and experiences also contribute a role into our squish and squat and shoo responses … I am not necessarily dumb for allowing a black widow to be handled and released from a tent … well, i guess thats up to each individual to decide for themselves. In any event ’twas two poor adjectives imho.

  10. Bill, thank you so much for this blog and I understand your concerns on this subject as it all really does not make sense.

    Bill you know for years I have been researching and figuring out what is the root cause for all the problems in our world today. And the plain, simple answer is we have a few very rich, corrupt elites trying to control our beloved planet and all its inhabitants for their own insincere greedy means. I could go more further into the reasons behind this, though I won’t as it includes the esoteric which many would not be able to comprehend as very much beyond the average person’s scope of awareness or understanding.

    Basically our system as we know it today needs to be stripped completely down to scratch, which thank god it’s trying to do with all the uprising of people now across Europe in taking their countries back, which is exactly what these corrupt elites don’t want. Therefore, we now have an opportunity in sight in re-educating the next generation coming through, that is if their brains have not been too frazzled by AI Technologies, in understanding where we went wrong by not connecting enough to nature and the implications it has had not only with our eco-system, but humanity and the planet as a whole. Therefore, giving us the opportunity in rebuilding not only a planet and society in homoeostases with nature, but a much more consciously advanced version of humanity that will be able to teach their next generations the secret to planetary natural law.

    Best wishes
    C. Myles

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