The United Nations can teach us how to share23

There are a number of things that the United Nations can teach us how to share, but I would like to mention four principal things: the message of trust, the message of concern, the message of unity in diversity and, finally, the message of universal peace.

Each nation is unique in its own way. Each nation has achieved something special, at least for itself. When a nation is ready to feel that other nations are an extension of its own being, when a nation becomes aware that all nations belong to one family, one source, and have one common goal, then that particular nation can easily teach or share its lofty achievements. Each nation knows inwardly that satisfaction and perfection lie only in self-giving, not in displaying its grandiose achievements or in hoarding its capacities.

All nations are pilgrims, eternal pilgrims, walking along the same road, the road of Eternity. On the way, some become tired and want to take rest. They do not have the energy to walk any farther. At that moment, if the nations that are ahead can feed and energise those that have fallen back, then the lagging ones can easily keep pace with the nations that are marching speedily.

If a strong nation feels that its progress will be slow if it helps a weak one, I wish to say that this is not true. If one nation encourages, inspires, feeds and energises the nations that are behind, then the gratitude-flower of those particular nations will blossom inside the strong nation’s heart, and the fragrance of the gratitude-flower is bound to accelerate the strong nation’s progress towards its destined goal. The fragrance of the flower will inspire it, and from this inspiration it will get abundant life, abundant light and an abundant sense of achievement and perfection.

The great mystic thinker Kahlil Gibran once said something most soulfully true: “The significance of man is not in his attainment but in what he longs to attain.” The present-day world has achieved quite a few significant things. It has acquired money-power, technology-power, machine-power, but unfortunately it has not acquired soul-power. It has acquired the power to destroy humanity, but this has not brought it any satisfaction. It longs for world peace, world harmony and world unity. It has the inner cry to love the world, to feel the heart of the world and to become one, inseparably one, with the world at large.

The past has not given us what we really need. Granted, the past was something significant, but right now it pales into insignificance when we measure it against our dream: not against what we are, but against what we want to become. What we are now is a semi-animal, but what we want to become is a full, complete and total God.

Dream and reality are two different things. Right now reality is most deplorable, and man’s dream is a far cry. The reality that the United Nations can offer to the world at large is not quite satisfactory. But for that we cannot blame the United Nations: for that we must blame each individual person. Unless each human being cooperates most soulfully with the will of the United Nations, reality will remain a painful accident in life and dream will remain a chimerical castle in the air. Unless and until we become inseparably one with the ideals of the United Nations, we can never be happy and fulfilled. The United Nations can teach us how to share. If we do not share with others what we have and what we are, we are bound to feel unsatisfied, no matter what we achieve and what we grow into.

Millions of people know about the United Nations and admire its capacities, its willingness, its eagerness, its good will. But how many people are ready to become one with the soul of the United Nations? Millions of people can meet together, but if there is no soul’s bond, no soul’s unity, then all nations will prove to be veritable beggars. In the matter of inner strength, inner power and real achievement, thousands of minds, thousands of bodies, thousands of vital beings or emotional feelings can join together, but if the soul’s bond is not established, there will always be loneliness. The soul of the United Nations has to be accepted by all nations, and only then will a sense of completeness, perfection and satisfaction be attained.

Each individual being, each man and woman, should feel that he belongs not to his own nation, but to all nations. That does not mean that he will neglect his own nation and devote all his attention to other nations. But each human being who has the energy and willingness to be of service to other nations will also have the willingness to serve his own country in ample measure. While serving his own country, he has to feel that it is becoming one with other nations. He has to feel that his own arms are becoming one with his eyes. His arms are his power of work, and his eyes are his power of vision. His vision carries him to the length and breadth of the world, whereas his arms remain where he himself is. With his vision he sees the needs of his brothers and sisters of the world. Then with his arms he has to work to fulfil those needs. He can do this only when he feels that he has gone far beyond his little family and has accepted the world-family as his very own.

The greatest wise man of the past, Socrates, taught us something very profound when he said, “I am not an Athenian, nor am I a Greek. I am a citizen of the world.” If each individual in each nation can proclaim this message, if each individual in each nation can consciously and devotedly feel that he does not belong to a little family called “I and mine” but to a larger family called “We and ours”, then the message of the United Nations, the message of love, of brotherhood, of peace, of soulful sharing, can easily be received, embraced and executed by the entire world.

THN 23. Dag Hammarskjold Lecture Series, Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, 6 June 1974.