Old Creed in a New World

Hammarskjold, Dag


  • Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, describes his beliefs in the value of self-sacrifice and service to country and humanity, in the equality of individuals, in the importance of intellectual honesty, and in the rewards of selfless love and duty. Audio also contains advertisement for "This I Believe" book.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dag Hammarskjöld is Secretary General of the United Nations. He comes from a family with a strong tradition of public service, and is a son of Sweden's World War I prime minister. After teaching political economy at Stockholm University, he went into the civil service, becoming Undersecretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the Bank of Sweden. After World War II, he was attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was active in the Organization for European Economic Cooperation. Until his election as Secretary General in 1953, he headed the Swedish delegation to the United Nations.
A youthful bachelor, he is a modest man, who hates pretense and loves mountain climbing. Here are the personal beliefs of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld.
The world in which I grew up was dominated by principles and ideals of a time far from ours and, as it may seem, far removed from the problems facing a man of the middle of the twentieth century. However, my way has not meant a departure from those ideals. On the contrary, a never abandoned effort frankly and squarely to build up a personal belief in the light of experience and honest thinking has led me to recognize and endorse, unreservedly, those very beliefs which once were handed down to me.
From generations of soldiers and government officials on my father's side I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory than one of selfless service to your country or humanity. This service required likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions.
From scholars and clergymen on my mother's side I inherited a belief that, in the very radical sense of the Gospels, all men were equals as children of God, and should be met and treated by us as our masters in God.
Faith is a state of the mind and the soul. The language of religion is a set of formulas which register a basic spiritual experience. I was late in understanding what this meant.
When I finally reached that point, the beliefs in which I was once brought up were recognized by me as mine in their own right and by my free choice. I feel that I can endorse those convictions without any compromise with the demands of that intellectual honesty which is the very key to maturity of mind.
The two ideals which dominated my childhood world met me fully harmonized and adjusted to the demands of our world of today in the ethics of Albert Schweitzer, where the ideal of service is supported by and supports the basic attitude to man set forth in the Gospels. In his work I also found a key for modern man to the world of the Gospels.
But the explanation of how man should live a life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of the spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics for whom self-surrender had been the way to self-realization, and who in singleness of mind and inwardness had found strength to say yes to every fate and demand life had in store for them when they followed the call of duty. Love, that much misused and misinterpreted word, for them meant simply an overflowing of the strength with which they felt themselves filled when living in true self-oblivion.
And this love found natural expressions in an unhesitant fulfillment of duty and in an unreserved acceptance of life, whatever it brought them personally of toil, suffering or happiness.
I know that their discoveries about the laws of inner life and of action have not lost their significance.
Those were the personal beliefs of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld. They were chosen from the beliefs broadcast in the past two years for inclusion in the new This I Believe book, now at your bookstore.