Not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell


Recently, I have been redoing and updating my lecture and tutorial notes on the United Nations for my JC2 History tuition kiddos.  It’s a fascinating study of the world’s only truly international organization and through its achievements and failings, we look through a mirror to see our world since 1945. One of my favourite personalities is one of the UN’s earliest Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold. There are many things about him that inspires me  such as his activism for peace, his beautiful literary art, and his awe for God, but it is his quotes which depict a wonderful blend of reality and idealism to reflect a man whose eyes were always on the stars above us, but whose feet were firmly planted on the groud beneath him, in this “soiled and surly orb that engulfs us”. Here is a little selection from my collection:

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.

Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment. (This is a tragic quote on hindsight because he was killed in an inexplicable airplane crash on his way to Congo in 1961 for peacekeeping purposes)

The UN was created not in order to bring us to heaven but to save us from hell. (My favourite quote on the UN)

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. (A wonderful rejoinder to Nietzche’s oft-quoted claim that “God is dead”)

In the last analysis, it is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the questions that life puts to us. (Something that we discussed at our movie club after watching ‘The Bucket List’)

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


~ by irwin on October 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “Not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell”

  1. Great blog. I have been attempting to source the quote from Dag Hammarskjold regarding the UN not being created to bring us to Heaven but to save us from Hell. I can’t find the date or the speech when that statement was made by the famous Secretary General. If you can help, I would love to hear from you.

    Peter Ramsay, PEI Canada

  2. Thanks for your comment Ramsay! =) Unfortunately, this quote seems to have gone the way of popular legend, where the source and provenance are no longer verifiable.

    What’s PEI by the way?

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