Dr. Albert Schweitzer's The Philosophy of Civilization, Part 1 - The Decay and Restoration of Civilization. Excerpts taken from Internet Archive
One thing, however, is clear. Where the collective body works more strongly on the individual than the latter does upon it, the result is deterioration, because the noble element on which everything depends, viz., the spiritual and moral worthiness of the individual, is thereby necessarily constricted and hampered. Decay of the spiritual and moral life then sets in, which renders society incapable of understanding and solving the problems which it has to face. Thereupon, sooner or later, it is involved in catastrophe.
That is the condition in which we are now, and that is why it is the duty of individuals to rise to a higher conception of their capabilities and undertake again the function which only the individual can perform, that of producing new spiritual-ethical ideas. If this does not come about in a multitude of cases nothing can save us.
A new public opinion must be created privately and unobtrusively. The existing one is maintained by the Press, by propaganda, by organization, and by financial and other influences which are at its disposal. This unnatural way of spreading ideas must be opposed by the natural one, which goes from man to man and relies solely on the truth of the thoughts and the hearer's receptiveness for new truth. (emphasis ours) Unarmed, and following the human spirit's primitive and natural fighting method, it must attack the other, which faces it, Goliath faced David, in the mighty armour of the age.
About the struggle which must needs ensue no historical analogy can tell us much. The past has, no doubt, seen the struggle of the free-thinking individual against the fettered spirit of a whole society, but the problem has never presented itself on the scale on which it does to-day, because the fettering of the collective spirit as it is fettered
to-day by modern organizations, modern unreflectiveness, and modern popular passions, is a phenomenon without precedent in history. . .
There is only one way in which we can hope to emerge from the meaningless state in which we are now held captive into one informed with meaning. Each one of us must turn to contemplate his own being, and we must all give ourselves to co-operative reflection so as to discover how our will to action and to progress may be intellectually based on the way in which we interpret our own lives and the life around us, and the meaning which we give to these. . .
The ways along which we have to struggle toward the goal may be veiled in darkness, yet the direction in which we must travel is clear. We must reflect together about the meaning of life; we must strive together to attain to a theory of the universe affirmative of the world and of life, in which the impulse to action which we experience as a necessary and valuable element of our being may find justification, orientation, clarity and depth, may receive a fresh access of moral strength, and be retempered, and thus become capable of formulating, and of acting on, definite ideals of civilization, inspired by the spirit of true humanitarianism.