The Bedrock


“Concerning men and their way to peace and concord–?” The truth is so simple that it is considered a pretentious banality. Yet it is continually being denied by our behavior. Every day furnishes new examples.
It is more important to be aware of the grounds for your own behavior than to understand the motives of another.
The other’s “face” is more important than your own. If, while pleading another’s cause, you are at the same time seeking something for yourself, you cannot hope to succeed.
You can only hope to find a lasting solution to a conflict if you have learned to see the other objectively, but, at the same time, to experience his difficulties subjectively.
The man who “likes people” disposes once and for all of the man who despises them.
All first-hand experience is valuable, and he who has given up looking for it will one day find–that he lacks what he needs: a closed mind is a weakness, and he who approaches persons or painting or poetry without the youthful ambition to learn a new language and so gain access to someone else’s perspective on life, let him beware.
A successful lie is doubly a lie, an error which has to be corrected is a heavier burden than truth: only an uncompromising “honesty” can reach the bedrock of decency which you should always expect to find, even under deep layers of evil.
Diplomatic “finesse” must never be another word for fear of being unpopular: that is to seek the appearance of influence at the cost of its reality.

Dag Hammarskjold, 1955, “Markings”