Dag Hammarskjold Quotes
Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again. ―
Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who ‘forgives’ you–out of love–takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice.
The price you must pay for your own liberation through another’s sacrifice is that you in turn must be willing to liberate in the same way, irrespective of the consequences to yourself. ― Markings
The only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation. – Dag Hammarskjold
I hope that you will join me on my inward journey. – Dag Hammarskjold
To be great is no longer important. – Dag Hammarskjold
Friendship needs no words. – Dag Hammarskjold
What makes loneliness an anguish is not that I have no one to share my burden, but this: I have only my own burden to bear.
Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was. – Dag Hammarskjold
You can regain Heaven, only through somebody else’s love. – Dag Hammarskjold
Are you gentle to other people? It is with yourself that you must live. – Dag Hammarskjold
At every moment, Jesus dies in someone, who has followed the trail- to the end. – Dag Hammarskjold
Let me read with open eyes the Book my days are writing- and learn. – Dag Hammarskjold
‘Freedom from fear’ could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights. – Dag Hammarskjold
For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes. – Dag Hammarskjold
Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible – not to have run away. – Dag Hammarskjold
Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for. – Dag Hammarskjold
The longest journey is the journey inward. – Dag Hammarskjold
The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others. – Dag Hammarskjold
We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears. – Dag Hammarskjold
We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. – Dag Hammarskjold on Eleanor Roosevelt
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. – Dag Hammarskjold on Friedrich Nietzsche
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. – Dag Hammarskjold on Helen Keller
Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. – Dag Hammarskjold on John F. Kennedy
The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. – Dag Hammarskjold on Ernest Hemingway
A task becomes a duty from the moment you suspect it to be an essential part of that integrity which alone entitles a man to assume responsibility. – Dag Hammarskjold
Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment. – Dag Hammarskjold
In the last analysis, it is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the questions that life puts to us. – Dag Hammarskjold
Your body must become familiar with its death – in all its possible forms and degrees – as a self-evident, imminent, and emotionally neutral step on the way towards the goal you have found worthy of your life. – Dag Hammarskjold
Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions. – Dag Hammarskjold
The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned. – Dag Hammarskjold
- Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build for man a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just. And how can we fight for liberty if we are not free in our own minds? How can we ask others to sacrifice if we are not ready to do so?… Only in true surrender to the interest of all can we reach that strength and independence, that unity of purpose, that equity of judgment which are necessary if we are to measure up to our duty to the future, as men of a generation to whom the chance was given to build in time a world of peace.
- UN Press Release SG/360 (22 December 1953)
- The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.
- United Nations Bulletin Vol. XVI, No. 4 (15 February 1954)
- A man of firm convictions does not ask, and does not receive, understanding from those with whom he comes into conflict. … A mature man is his own judge. In the end, his only firm support is being faithful to his own convictions. The advice of others may be welcome and valuable, but it does not free him from responsibility. Therefore, he may become very lonely.
- Address to the Swedish Academy (20 December 1954)
- The UN is not just a product of do-gooders. It is harshly real. The day will come when men will see the UN and what it means clearly. Everything will be all right — you know when? When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction, and see it as a drawing they made themselves.
- As quoted in The Times [London] (27 June 1955)
- Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon.
- As quoted in news reports (18 March 1956) and Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations (1988) by James Beasley Simpson
- I never discuss discussions.
- Statement after diplomatic talks, as quoted in Look (19 September 1956)
- In a political context of the utmost significance, [“freedom from fear”] recognizes a human right which, in a broad sense, may be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights.
- Speech at the celebration of the 180th anniversary of the Virginia Declaration of Rights (16 May 1956)
- Do we refer to the purposes of the Charter? They are expressions of universally shared ideals which cannot fail us, though we, alas, often fail them. Or do we think of the institutions of the United Nations? They are our tools. We fashioned them. We use them. It is our responsibility to remedy any flaws there may be in them.… This is a difficult lesson for both idealists and realists, though for different reasons. I suppose that, just as the first temptation of the realist is the illusion of cynicism, so the first temptation of the idealist is the illusion of Utopia.
- “An International Administrative Service”, From an Address to the International Law Association at McGill University, Montreal, 30 May, 1956. Wilder Foote (Ed.),
- It is not the Soviet Union or indeed any other big Powers who need the United Nations for their protection. It is all the others. In this sense, the Organization is first of all their Organization and I deeply believe in the wisdom with which they will be able to use it and guide it. I shall remain in my post during the term of my office as a servant of the Organization in the interests of all those other nations, as long as they wish me to do so. In this context the representative of the Soviet Union spoke of courage. It is very easy to resign; it is not so easy to stay on. It is very easy to bow to the wish of a big power. It is another matter to resist. As is well known to all Members of this Assembly, I have done so before on many occasions and in many directions. If it is the wish of those nations who see in the Organization their best protection in the present world, I shall now do so again.
- Statement to the General Assembly of the United Nations (3 October 1960)
- You try to save a drowning man without prior authorization.
- Statement on UN Operations in Congo before the General Assembly, 17 October 1960.
- Statement on UN Operations in Congo before the General Assembly, 17 October 1960.
- Those who invoke history will certainly be heard by history. And they will have to accept its verdict.
- On Nikita Khrushchev as quoted in The Times [London] (4 October 1960)
- The Assembly has witnessed over the last weeks how historical truth is established; once an allegation has been repeated a few times, it is no longer an allegation, it is an established fact, even if no evidence has been brought out in order to support it.
- On accusations by Nikita Khrushchev, as quoted in The Times [London] (4 October 1960)
- Setbacks in trying to realize the ideal do not prove that the ideal is at fault.
- As quoted by Rolf Edberg, Swedish Ambassador to Norway, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Hammarskjöld in Oslo, Norway (10 December 1961)
- It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. It is when we all play safe that fatality will lead us to our doom. It is in the “dark shade of courage” alone that the spell can be broken.
- Servant of Peace : A Selection of the Speeches and Statements of Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary General of the United Nations (1962), p. 107; this has sometimes been paraphrased: It is in playing safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity.
- The breaking wave and the muscle as it contracts obey the same law. Delicate line gathers the body’s total strength in a bold balance. Shall my soul meet so severe a curve, journeying on its way to form?
- Statement inspired by the work of British sculptor Barbara Hepworth, quoted in The Christian Science Monitor (18 Jun 1964)
- It is a little bit humiliating when I have to say that Chou En-lai to me appears as the most superior brain I have so far met in the field of foreign politics… so much more dangerous than you imagine because he is so much better a man than you have ever admitted.
- In a letter to a friend, as quoted in Hammarskjöld (1972) by Brian Urquhart
- The big, shoe-thumping fellow continues as a dark thunderhead to threaten all unrepentant non-Communists with hail and thunder.
- On Nikita Kruschev, in a letter to a friend, as quoted in Hammarskjöld (1972) by Brian Urquhart
- Is life so wretched? Isn’t it rather your hands which are too small, your vision which is muddled? You are the one who must grow up.
- As quoted in Know Your Limits — Then Ignore Them (2000) by John Mason
- If even dying is to be made a social function, then, grant me the favor of sneaking out on tiptoe without disturbing the party.
- As quoted in As I Journey On : Meditations for Those Facing Death (2000) by Sharon Dardis and Cindy Rogers
- It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.
- As quoted in Living in Grace : The Shift to Spiritual Perception (2002) by Beca Lewis, p. 158
- The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.
- As quoted in Sacred Seasonings (2003) by Sherri Purdom
- Give me a pure heart that I may see Thee.
A humble heart that I may hear Thee,
A heart of love that I may serve Thee,
A heart of faith that I may abide in Thee.
- A task becomes a duty from the moment you suspect it to be an essential part of that integrity which alone entitles a man to assume responsibility.
- Destiny is something not be to desired and not to be avoided. A mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.
- Friendship needs no words — it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness.
- Variant translation: Friendship needs no words — it is a loneliness relieved of the anguish of loneliness.
- For all that has been — Thanks. For all that shall be — Yes.
- Variant translation: For all that has been — thanks. For all that will be — yes.
- Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean.
- God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.
- He who has surrendered himself to it knows that the Way ends on the Cross — even when it is leading him through the jubilation of Gennesaret or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.
- I believe that we should die with decency so that at least decency will survive.
- I don’t know Who — or what — put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone — or Something — and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.
- In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.
- In the faith which is “God’s marriage to the soul”, you are one in God, and God is wholly in you, just as, for you, He is wholly in all you meet. With this faith, in prayer you descend into yourself to meet the other.
- In the last analysis it is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the questions life puts to us … Hence too the necessity of preparing for it.
- Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible — not to have run away.
- Life yields only to the conqueror. Never accept what can be gained by giving in. You will be living off stolen goods, and your muscles will atrophy.
- The myths have always condemned those who “looked back.” Condemned them, whatever the paradise may have been which they were leaving. Hence this shadow over each departure from your decision
- Maturity: among other things, the unclouded happiness of the child at play, who takes it for granted that he is at one with his play-mates.
- Never, “for the sake of peace and quiet,” deny your own experience or convictions.
- Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road.
- Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.
- Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.
- Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity — intellectual, emotional, and moral.
Respect for the word — to employ it with scrupulous care and in incorruptible heartfelt love of truth — is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race.
To misuse the word is to show contempt for man. It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes Man to regress down the long path of his evolution.
“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men speak…”
- The longest journey
Is the journey inwards.
Of him who has chosen his destiny,
Who has started upon his quest
For the source of his being.
- Variant translation: The longest journey is the journey inward, for he who has chosen his destiny has started upon his quest for the source of his being.
- The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others.
- There is a point at which everything becomes simple and there is no longer any question of choice, because all you have staked will be lost if you look back. Life’s point of no return.
- Time goes by, reputation increases, ability declines.
- “To forgive oneself”—? No, that doesn’t work: we have to be forgiven. But we can only believe this is possible if we ourselves can forgive.
- To love life and men as God loves them —
for the sake of
their infinite possibilities,
to wait like Him,
to judge like Him,
without passing judgment,
to obey the order when it is given
and never look back.
- We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.
- What makes loneliness an anguish
Is not that I have no one to share my burden,
- I have only my own burden to bear.
- You are not the oil, you are not the air — merely the point of combustion, the flash-point where the light is born. You are merely the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does. If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency. You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency — your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end and remain purely as a means.
- Your body must become familiar with its death — in all its possible forms and degrees — as a self-evident, imminent, and emotionally neutral step on the way towards the goal you have found worthy of your life.
- Your cravings as a human animal do not become a prayer just because it is God whom you ask to attend to them.
- It is easy to be nice, even to an enemy — from lack of character.
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld (29 July 1905 – 18 September 1961) was a Swedish economist and diplomat who served as the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. Hammarskjöld is the youngest person to have held the post, at an age of 47 years upon his appointment. His second term was cut short when he died in the crash of his DC-6 airplane (whose cause is still disputed) while en route to cease-fire negotiations during the Congo Crisis. He is one of only four people to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize.
Hammarskjöld has been referred to as one of the two best secretaries-general of the United Nations, and his appointment has been mentioned as the most notable success for the UN. United States President John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld the greatest statesman of our century.