Dag Hammarskjold Quotes

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.

We have collected and put the best Dag Hammarskjöld quotes. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others.

May these Dag Hammarskjöld quotes on many subjects inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.

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Dag Hammarskjold

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

Acts of violence– Whether on a large or a small scale, the bitter paradox: the meaningfulness of death–and the meaninglessness of killing. – Dag Hammarskjold

Are you gentle to other people? It is with yourself that you must live. – Dag Hammarskjold

At every moment you choose yourself. But do you choose *your* self? Body and soul contain a thousand possibilities out of which you can build many I’s. But in one of them is there a congruence of the elector and the elected. Only one–which you will never find until you have excluded all those superficial and fleeting possibilities of being and doing with which you toy, out of curiosity or wonder or greed, and which hinder you from casting anchor in the experience of the mystery of life, and the consciousness of the talent entrusted to you which is your *I*. – Dag Hammarskjold

At every moment, Jesus dies in someone, who has followed the trail- to the end. – Dag Hammarskjold

At some moment I did answer “Yes” to someone or something. And from that hour on I was certain that existence is meaningful. – Dag Hammarskjold

Be grateful as your deeds become less and less associated with your name, as your feet ever more lightly tread the earth. – Dag Hammarskjold

Beneath the hush a whisper from long ago, promising peace of mind and a burden shared. No peace which is not peace for all, no rest until all has been fulfilled. – Dag Hammarskjold

Better than other people.’ Sometimes he says: ‘That, at least, you are.’ But more often: ‘Why should you be? Either you are what you can be, or you are not – like other people. – Dag Hammarskjold

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

Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon. – Dag Hammarskjold

Creative people have to be fed from the divine source. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Destiny is something not to be desired and not to be avoided. – Dag Hammarskjold

Do not look back and do not dream about the future. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward, your destiny, is in the present moment  – Dag Hammarskjold

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. – Dag Hammarskjold on John F. Kennedy

Do not seek death. Death will find you. – Dag Hammarskjold

Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment. – Dag Hammarskjold

Doffing the ego’s safe glory, he finds his naked reality. – Dag Hammarskjold

Each day the first day: Each day a life. – Dag Hammarskjold

Each day the first day:
Each day a life. – Dag Hammarskjold

Each morning we must hold out the chalice of our being to receive, to carry, and give back. It must be held out empty – for the past must only be reflected in its polish, its shape, its capacity. – Dag Hammarskjold

Every deed and every relationship is surrounded by an atmosphere of silence. Friendship needs no words — it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Fatigue dulls the pain, but awakes enticing thoughts of death. So! that is the way in which you are tempted to overcome your loneliness — by making the ultimate escape from life. — No! It may be that death is to be your ultimate gift to life: it must not be an act of treachery against it. – Dag Hammarskjold

For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes! – Dag Hammarskjold

For all that has been, Thanks. To all that shall be, Yes. – Dag Hammarskjold

For the sacrificed, in the hour of sacrifice, only one thing counts: faith-alone among enemies and skeptics. Faith, in spite of the humiliation which is both the necessary precondition and the consequence of faith, faith without any hope of compensation other than he can find in a faith which reality seems so thoroughly to refute. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

“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. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

‘Freedom from fear’ could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights. – Dag Hammarskjold

Friendship needs no words – it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness. – Dag Hammarskjold

Friendship needs no words. – Dag Hammarskjold

Friendship needs no words-it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

has no impact on most of the people outside the General Assembly and this building. – Dag Hammarskjold

He broke fresh ground-because, and only because, he had the courage to go ahead without asking whether others were following or even understood. He had no need for the divided responsibility in which others seek to be safe from ridicule, because he had been granted a faith which required no confirmation-a contact with reality, light and intense like the touch of a loved hand: a union in self-surrender without self- destruction, where his heart was lucid and his mind was loving. – Dag Hammarskjold

He is one of those who has had the wilderness for a pillow, and called a star his brother. Alone. But loneliness can be a communion. – Dag Hammarskjold

He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn’t reserve a plot for weeds. – Dag Hammarskjold

Here man is no longer the center of the world, only a witness, but a witness who is also a partner in the silent life of Nature, bound by secret affinities of the trees. – Dag Hammarskjold

How Forgiveness Helps Us 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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Humility before the flower at the timber line is the gate which gives access to the path up the open fell. – Dag Hammarskjold

Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. – Dag Hammarskjold

Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. To be humble is not to make comparisons. Secure in its reality, the self is neither better nor worse, bigger nor smaller, than anything else in the universe. It is ? is nothing, yet at the same time one with everything. It is in this sense that humility is absolute self-effacement. – Dag Hammarskjold

Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. – Dag Hammarskjold

I am the vessel. The draft is God’s. And God is the thirsty one. – Dag Hammarskjold

I believe that we should die with decency so that at least decency will survive. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

I have only my own burden to bear. – Dag Hammarskjold

I hope that you will join me on my inward journey. – Dag Hammarskjold

I never discuss discussions. – Dag Hammarskjold

If a good person does you wrong, act as though you had not noticed it. They will make note of this and not remain in your debt long. – Dag Hammarskjold

If even dying is to be made a social function, then, grant me the favor of sneaking out on tiptoe without disturbing the party. – Dag Hammarskjold

If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer. – Dag Hammarskjold

In a dream I walked with God through the deep places of creation; past walls that receded and gates that opened through hall after hall of silence, darkness and refreshment–the dwelling place of souls acquainted with light and warmth–until, around me, was an infinity into which we all flowed together and lived anew, like the rings made by raindrops falling upon wide expanses of calm dark waters. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action. – 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

In the presence of God, nothing stands between Him and us – we are forgiven. But we cannot feel His presence if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Isn’t the fulfillment of our duty towards our neighbor an expression of deepest desire? – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

It is easy to be nice, even to an enemy – from lack of character. – Dag Hammarskjold

It is more important to understand the ground of your own behavior than to understand the motives of another. – Dag Hammarskjold

It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses. – Dag Hammarskjold

It is not the repeated mistakes, the long succession of petty betrayals–though, God knows, they would give cause enough for anxiety and self-contempt–but the huge elementary mistake, the betrayal of that within me which is greater than I–in complacent adjustment to alien demands. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

It is not we who seek the Way, but the Way which seeks us. That is why you are faithful to it, even while you stand waiting, so long as you are prepared, and act the moment you are confronted by its demands. – Dag Hammarskjold

It is playing safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. – Dag Hammarskjold

It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. – Dag Hammarskjold

It was when Lucifer first congratulated himself upon his angelic behavior that he became the tool of evil. – Dag Hammarskjold

Let me read with open eyes the Book my days are writing- and learn. – Dag Hammarskjold

Friendship needs no words.- Dag Hammarskjold

Life demands from you only the strength you posses. One feat is possible — not to have run away. – Dag Hammarskjold

Life only demands from you the strength that you possess. Only one feat is possible; not to run away. – Dag Hammarskjold

Life only demands from you the strength you possess. – Dag Hammarskjold

Life yields only to the conqueror. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Like the bee, we distill poison from honey for our self-defense–what happens to the bee if it uses its sting is well known. – Dag Hammarskjold

Like wind– In it, with it, of it. Of it just like a sail, so light and strong that, even when it is bent flat, it gathers all the power of the wind without hampering its course. Like light– In light, lit through by light, transformed into light. Like the lens which disappears in the light it focuses. Like wind. Like light. Just this–on these expanses, on these heights. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Never for the sake of peace and quiet deny your convictions. – Dag Hammarskjold

Never let success hide its emptiness from you, achievement its nothingness, toil its desolation. And so…keep alive the incentive to push on further, that pain in the soul which drives us beyond ourselves…Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward – your destiny – are here and now. – Dag Hammarskjold

Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only those who keep their eye fixed on the far horizon will find their right road. – Dag Hammarskjold

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 the right road. – Dag Hammarskjold

Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was. – Dag Hammarskjold

Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions. – Dag Hammarskjold

On the bookshelf of life, God is a useful work of reference, always at hand but seldom consulted. – Dag Hammarskjold

Only he deserves power who every day justifies it. – Dag Hammarskjold

Only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road. – Dag Hammarskjold

Only one feat is possible: not to have run away. – Dag Hammarskjold

Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each of us. – Dag Hammarskjold

Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each 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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. – Dag Hammarskjold

Peacekeeping is not a job for soldiers, but only soldiers can do it. – Dag Hammarskjold

Perhaps a great love is never returned. – Dag Hammarskjold

Perhaps a great love is never returned. Had it been given warmth and shelter by its counterpart in the Other, perhaps it would have been hindered from ever growing to maturity. It “gives” us nothing. But in its world of loneliness it leads us up to the summits with wide vistas – of great insights. – Dag Hammarskjold

Praise those of your critics for whom nothing is up to standard. – Dag Hammarskjold

Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for. – Dag Hammarskjold

Respect for the word – to employ it with scrupulous care and an 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. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

Set-backs in efforts to implement an ideal do not prove that the ideal is wrong… – Dag Hammarskjold

Setbacks in trying to realize the ideal do not prove that the ideal is at fault. – Dag Hammarskjold

Smiling, sincere, incorruptible – His body disciplined and limber. A man who had become what he could, And was what he was- Ready at any moment to gather everything Into one simple sacrifice. – Dag Hammarskjold

Smiling, sincere, incorruptible –
His body disciplined and limber.
A man who had become what he could,
And was what he was-
Ready at any moment to gather everything
Into one simple sacrifice. – Dag Hammarskjold

So rests the sky against the earth. The dark still tarn in the lap of the forest. As a husband embraces his wife’s body in faithful tenderness, so the bare ground and trees are embraced by the still, high, light of the morning. I feel an ache of longing to share in this embrace, to be united and absorbed. A longing like carnal desire, but directed towards earth, water, sky, and returned by the whispers of the trees, the fragrance of the soil, the caresses of the wind, the embrace of water and light. Content? No, no, no – but refreshed, rested – while waiting. – Dag Hammarskjold

That which does not kill us makes us stronger. – Dag Hammarskjold on Friedrich Nietzsche

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

The big, shoe-thumping fellow continues as a dark thunderhead to threaten all unrepentant non-Communists with hail and thunder. – Dag Hammarskjold

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? – Dag Hammarskjold

The concept of loyalty is distorted when it is understood to mean blind acceptance. It is correctly interpreted when it is assumed to cover honest criticism. – Dag Hammarskjold

The devils enter uninvited when the house stands empty. For other kinds of guests, you have to first open the door. – Dag Hammarskjold

The dizziness in the face of les espaces infinis–only overcome if we dare to gaze into them without any protection. And accept them as the reality before which we must justify our existence. For this is the truth we must reach to live, that everything is and we just in it. – Dag Hammarskjold

The ‘great’ commitment is so much easier than the ordinary everyday one. – Dag Hammarskjold

The great commitment is so much easier than the ordinary, everyday one — and can all too easily shut our hearts to the latter. A willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice can be associated with, and even produce, a great hardness of heart. You thought you were indifferent to praise for achievements which you would not yourself have counted to your credit, or that, if you should be tempted to feel flattered, you would always remember that the praise far exceeded what the events justified. You thought yourself indifferent — until you felt your jealousy flare up at his naive attempts to make himself important, and your self-conceit stood exposed. Concerning the hardness of the heart — and its littleness — let me read with open eyes the book my days are writing, and learn. – Dag Hammarskjold

Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.

The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable. – Dag Hammarskjold

The light died in the low clouds. Falling snow drank in the dusk. Shrouded in silence, the branches wrapped me in their peace. When the boundaries were erased, once again the wonder: that *I* exist. – Dag Hammarskjold

The longest journey is the journey inward. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

The longest journey of any person is the journey inward – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. – Dag Hammarskjold

The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

The only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation. – Dag Hammarskjold

The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others. – Dag Hammarskjold

The present moment is significant, not as the bridge between past and future, but by reason of its contents, which can fill our emptiness and become ours, if we are capable of receiving them – 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

The truth is so simple that it is regarded as a pretentious banality. – Dag Hammarskjold

The UN is not just a product of do-gooders. It is harshly real. The day will come when men will see the U.N. 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. – Dag Hammarskjold

The UN wasn’t created to take mankind into paradise, but rather, to save humanity from hell. – Dag Hammarskjold

The Universal Declaration… as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations…it not only crystallizes the political thought of our times on these matters, but it has also influenced the thinking of legislators all over the world.

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. – Dag Hammarskjold on Ernest Hemingway

The world cannot live at peace without the United Nations. For this reason: it creates a reasonable guarantee that all this change in the world, these tremendous political and economic developments, can be channelized, kept orderly. The United Nations is a mold that keeps the hot metal from spilling over. – 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

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

This accidental meeting of possibilities calls itself I. I ask: what am I doing here? And, at once, this I becomes unreal. – Dag Hammarskjold

Those who invoke history will certainly be heard by history. And they will have to accept its verdict. – Dag Hammarskjold

Time always seems long to the child who is waiting – for Christmas, for next summer, for becoming a grownup: long also when he surrenders his whole soul to each moment of a happy day. – Dag Hammarskjold

Time goes by, reputation increases, ability declines. – Dag Hammarskjold

To be great is no longer important. – Dag Hammarskjold

‘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. – Dag Hammarskjold

To have humility is to experience reality, not in relation to ourselves, but in its sacred independence. It is to see, judge, and act from the point of rest in ourselves. Then, how much disappears, and all that remains falls into place. In the point of rest at the center of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud a revelation, each man a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses. The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable. – Dag Hammarskjold

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. – Dag Hammarskjold

To preserve the silence within–amid all the noise. To remain open and quiet, a moist humus in the fertile darkness where the rain falls and the grain ripens–no matter how many tramp across the parade ground in whirling dust under an arid sky. – Dag Hammarskjold

To reach perfection, we must all pass, one by one, through the death of self-effacement. – Dag Hammarskjold

Tomorrow we shall meet,
Death and I -.
And he shall thrust his sword
Into one who is wide awake. – Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hammarskjold Quotes

Unless there is a spiritual renaissance, the world will know no peace. – Dag Hammarskjold

We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. – Dag Hammarskjold

We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours. – Dag Hammarskjold

We cannot afford to forget any experience, not even the most painful. – 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

We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears. – Dag Hammarskjold

We’ve got to learn hard things in our lifetime, but it’s love that gives you the strength. It’s being nice to people and having a lot of fun and laughing harder than anything, hopefully every single day of your life. – 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. – 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. -Dag Hammarskjold

What you must dare: is to be yourself. – Dag Hammarskjold

When the morning’s freshness has been replaced by the weariness of midday, when the leg muscles give under the strain, the climb seems endless, and suddenly nothing will go quite as you wish-it is then that you must not hesitate. – Dag Hammarskjold

When the sense of the earth unites with the sense of one’s body, one becomes earth of the earth, a plant among plants, an animal born from the soil and fertilizing it. In this union, the body is confirmed in its pantheism. – Dag Hammarskjold

When you have reached the point where you no longer expect a response, you will at last be able to give in such a way that the other is able to receive, and be grateful. When Love has matured and, through a dissolution of the self into light, become a radiance, then shall the Lover be liberated from dependence upon the Beloved, and the Beloved also be made perfect by being liberated from the Lover. – Dag Hammarskjold

You are 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. – Dag Hammarskjold

You can regain Heaven, only through somebody else’s love. – Dag Hammarskjold

You cannot play with the animal in you without becoming wholly animal, play with falsehood without forfeiting your right to truth, play with cruelty without losing your sensitivity of mind. He who wants to keep his garden tidy does not reserve a plot for weeds – Dag Hammarskjold

You dare your Yes – and experience a meaning…You repeat your Yes – and all things acquire a meaning…When everything has a meaning, how can you live anything but a YES. – Dag Hammarskjold

You take the pen, and the lines dance. You take the flute and the notes shimmer. You take the brush, and the colors sing. So all things have meaning and beauty in that space beyond time where you are. How, then, can I hold back anything from you? – Dag Hammarskjold

You wake from dreams of doom and–for a moment–you know: beyond all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing, love’s calm unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn. – 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

Your cravings as a human animal do not become a prayer just because it is God whom you ask to attend to them. – Dag Hammarskjold

Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others can receive your orders without being humiliated. – Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hammarskjold Quotes

From Wikiquote

  • 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.

      The longest journey is the journey inward.- Dag Hammarskjold

  • 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

Markings (1964)

  • 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,
    But this:
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.

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