Posts Tagged ‘valuing life’


“If every individual had a better relation to the animal within him, he would also set a higher value on life. Life would be the absolute, the supreme moral principle, and he would react instinctively against any institution or organization that had the power to destroy life on a large scale.”

C.G. Jung (CW 10, par. 32)

Humans have created many astounding accomplishments in the world. Listening to a great musical composition, gazing upon a work of art or standing amidst an architectural structure reminds us of what we can accomplish. We also witness many acts of kindness and compassion taking place daily in the world. Our capacity for creative compassionate acts seems boundless.

Yet, we also are aware of how destructive we can be. Witness the many wars, mistreatment of the poor and abuses of non-human beings in the world. Our sense of cruelty and destructiveness also seem to be boundless. Every moment of our lives we hold the potential to create or destroy. Every thought we entertain holds this potential of opposites and in those moments of destructive thought or action we lose our sense of what is most valuable.

Jung’s words remind us that we can choose to recognize the innate supreme moral principal of the value of Life. If we can reconnect with this moral principal then all of our actions will be instinctively rooted in compassion. Interestingly, Jung tells us a path back to valuing Life is to have a better relation with the animal within us. One way to recognize our inner animal is by connecting with animals in the outer world. If we extend compassion to these animals, then we will reconnect to our inner animal, which grounds us in the supreme moral principal of valuing Life. This one simple act of opening our selves to an animal out there can be the road to preventing the destruction of ‘life on a larger scale.’

Ultimately we are called to envision a world of interconnectedness extending beyond just us. I leave you with the words of the German philosopher Max Scheler written close to a century ago:

“We must learn anew to envisage the great, invisible solidarity of all living beings in universal life, of all minds in the eternal spirit – and at the same time the mutual solidarity of the world process and the destiny of its supreme principle, and we must not just accept this world unity as a mere doctrine, but practice and promote it in our inner and outer lives.”

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