Mountain climbing is a life metaphor for Hammarskjold, especially “when the leg muscles quiver under the strain, the climb seems endless, and suddenly, nothing will go quite as you wish — it is then that you must not hesitate.”(Markings. p.124) For in life as well as in the complex prose of Hammarskjold A Life striding its way up slope through the complexities of diplomacy, international relations. history and world politics in search of a summit, the reader must not hesitate for clearings do appear. But have no expectation of ultimate understanding and truth. This book like its subject is about unrelenting perseverance and faith. Lipsey’s journey is worth the studied effort required. Frequent stops along the trail and slow sipping of water are necessary.
I do not recall exactly when or how I discovered Dag Hammarskjold, nor does Lipsey in his experience. I may have been as young as nineteen. That was when the Albertina crashed in the Congo, killing all aboard. More and more I am convinced that Dag Hammarskjold was martyred to the cause of peace and justice in the world. I believe he lived his spiritual life and worldly mission in the imitation of Christ; yet nowhere can I find him self-righteous nor sanctimonious. Like David he faced off against secular giants like Khrushchev, DeGaulle and Chou En Lai. While he was thoroughly Christian, he could not and did not wear it on his sleeve. He couldn’t because he lived and breathed the ideals of an enormous secular organization. He represented the nexus of all the world’s religions where they meet in peace and justice.
And he was a poet. Percy Bysshe Shelley in his “A Defence of Poetry” extols the ultimate poet as a person of action as well as beauty. Hammarskjold represents that kind of hero as an “unacknowledged legislator of the world.” I suppose one could place Lincoln and Martin Luther King in such a category, but they have been acknowledged by history. Perhaps the pending investigation by the UN into the mystery of the Hammarskjold death will finally make him one of the acknowledged.
If you want to know this man a little, start with his Markings, his conversation with God. Next, take up Lipsey’s Dag Hammarskjold. Lipsey’s work links Hammarskjold’s trail marks with specific events in the Secretary General’s life. David Milliken