Above: Dag Hammarskjold
Image in the Public Domain
DAG HJALMAR AGNE CARL HAMMARSKJOLD (JULY 29, 1905-SEPTEMBER 18, 1961)
Secretary-General of the United Nations
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.
–Dag Hammarskjold in Markings (published in 1963)
In this post I do something I seldom do. I refer you, O reader, to a biography of the saint at another website and proceed directly to reflections.
Dag Hammarskjold operated based on Christian values he learned in his Lutheran family in Sweden. He internalized the importance of building up “the least among us” and of seeking peace. He even died while on a peace mission.
Such people tend to attract both admirers and detractors, both for their goals and their methods. The question of methods is a procedural one, but such goals should win universal acclaim. Yet they do not.
Greatness is never appreciated in youth, called pride in middle age, dismissed in old age, and reconsidered in death. Because we cannot tolerate greatness in our midst we do all we can to destroy it.
–Lady Morella in Point of No Return (1996), an episode of Babylon 5
The purpose of politics should be to unify diverse groups of people and seek the common good, not to pit groups against each other and propagate prejudice and ignorance, often in the name of making one’s country great again. One can consider the legacy of Hammarskjold and recognize an example of constructive politics, not, as an unfortunately accurate joke indicates, many bloodsucking creatures. One can learn from our saint the value and imperative of love, not hatred, and of faith, not fear.
Every day and at home, we are warned about the enemy. Is it the alien? Well, we are all alien to one another. Is it the one who believes differently than we do? No, oh no, my friends. The enemy is fear. The enemy is ignorance. The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different. Because, in the end, that hate will turn on you. And that same hate will destroy you.
–The Reverend Will Dexter in And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place (1996), an episode of Babylon 5
The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, encourages us in the Diocese of Atlanta to
love as Jesus loves.
I detect that ethic in the life of Hammarskjold, who had both admirers and detractors in life and retains both in death. Critics will always be present among us. When–not if–someone criticizes you, O reader, may it be for works of righteousness that benefit people and glorify God. May the criticism reflect badly on the critic, not you.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JUNE 14, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM
THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF HANS ADOLF BRORSON, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR
THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH
Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.
Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.
Help us, like your servant Dag Hammarskjold, to work for justice among people and nations,
to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60