Tag: <span>WorldCitizens</span>

Frank Baum Portraits of World Citizens.

Frank Baum: The Father of the Wizard of Oz.

Featured Image: Danielle Bowen, Kevin Cahoon, PJ Benjamin, Nicholas Rodriguez and Stephen Wallem in The Wizard of Oz at The Muny in 2016. By Meetmeatthemuny, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

L. Frank Baum (1856 –  1916) whose birth anniversary we mark on 15 May is largely forgotten as a writer while his 1899 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz lives on through the 1939 film with Judy Garland as Dorothy and references in essays to the Tin Woodman without a heart or Toto, Dorothy’s faithful dog.

The story begins as Dorothy and Toto are picked up from their farm in Kansas by a cyclone and carried into another world − the land of Oz.  Dorothy wants to return to Kansas and is advised to consult the Wizard who lives in the Emerald City at the center of the Land of Oz.  Dorothy and Toto set out on the Yellow Brick Road for the Emerald City.  On the way they meet three companions, each of whom joins her in the  hope that the Wizard of Oz will be able to give him what he lacks.

The first is the Scarecrow whose head is of straw and wants some brains so he can think.  The second is the Tin Woodman who wants a heart so he can love.  The third is the Cowardly Lion, who should be the king of the forest, but this lion is afraid of everything.  He wants courage so that he can act.

When they finally meet the Wizard of Oz, he turns out to be a human like Dorothy.  He was a balloonist in Nebraska who worked in a circus, going up in the balloon to attract a crowd. One day a strong wind blew him all the way to Oz where the inhabitants took him to be a great wizard.

 Portrait of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. By University of California, Los Angeles Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Wizard of Oz has all the essentials of a myth.  

It is set in a perilous, enchanted land where the human protagonist is engaged in a quest.  She faces great difficulties but is helped by extraordinary friends who are also on a quest.  The three friendly helpers represent what they think they lack: intelligence, love, courage.

At the end, each finds within himself the qualities they are seeking.  We each have within ourselves the qualities we seek.  The myth is a metaphor for balancing energies  at all levels.  Just as the spiritual transformation of a person must be initiated from within, so too collective bodies such as the Emerald City must discover the inner power to balance their energies and transform themselves into more humane systems.

The Adventures and Crises of the Oz myth.

Both individuals and organizations can become whole only if they can balance intellect, emotions, and courage. Through this balance, individuals and organizations develop a sense of purpose, a direction for their quest.  Many spiritual traditions emphasize the importance of balancing one’s energies as a means for spiritual growth, such as the Taoist Yin and Yang, thought of as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ energies. The balance must occur within each person who has both masculine and feminine qualities within.  The balance must be initiated from within the person, but this inner response comes from contact with external forces − thus the adventures and crises of the Oz myth.

Dorothy as the central character of the story.

Frank Baum as a newspaper editor was a strong advocate of the rights of women, and his wife was very active in efforts for the right of women to vote.  Thus, it is not surprising to find Dorothy as the central character of the story.  She symbolizes all the various energies and forces of the story.  She finds her personal balance  resulting in her spiritual transformation and her ability to achieve her quest − to return ‘home’.

As with all myths, the story can be read at different levels.  However, Frank Baum had a strong interest in Asian thought, and a spiritual reading of the myth is not adding something that was not consciously there.

Notes:

The MGM film with its songs sung by Judy Garland is out as a CD and merits seeing or re-seeing.

For a biography see: Katharine M. Rogers L. Frank Baum. Creator of Oz. A Biography (New York: St Martins Press, 2002)

To place Oz in the broader context of US myth making see Brian Attebery The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1980)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Arnold Toynbee Rapprochement of Cultures.

Arnold Toynbee: A World Citizens view of challenge and…

Featured Image: Arnold Toynbee. By Atyyahesir, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975)  was a historian, a philosopher of history, and an advisor on the wider Middle East to the British Government.  Already a specialist in Greece and the Middle East from his university studies; and in the intelligence services during the First World War; he was an expert delegate on the English delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.

Our modern Western nationalism has an ecclesiastical tinge, for, while in one aspect it is a reversion to the idolatrous self-worship of the tribe which was the only religion known to Man before the first of the ‘higher religions’ were discovered by an oppressed internal proletariat…it is a tribalism with a difference.  The primitive religion has been deformed into an enormity through being power-driven with a misapplied Christian driving force. 

Arnold Toynbee A Study of History.

Classical Greece and Decadence of a Civilization.

The breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of new states in the Middle East followed.  Also there was the start of Zionist activities in Palestine and frontier and population transfers between Greece and Turkey – all issues on which Arnold Toynbee gave advice.  He became director of studies of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) an early “think tank” created to advise the British Government (1).

At the same time that he was an advisor on the Middle East (Chatham House producing a respected Yearbook on world affairs); Toynbee continued writing on the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome; much influenced by the spirit of Thucydides.  Toynbee was struck by the alternative between union and division as the defining characteristic of classical Greece.  These were the centuries of the flowering and then final decadence of a civilization; which bears remarkable parallels with the history and perspectives of modern Europe.

 

Thucydides. This is the plaster cast bust currently in exposition of Zurab Tsereteli’s gallery in Moscow (part of Russian Academy of Arts), formerly from the collection of castings of Pushkin museum made in early 1900-1910s.
Original bust is a Roman copy (c. 100 CE) of an early 4th Century BCE Greek original, and is located in Holkham Hall in Norfolk, UK. By user:shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Vision of World Citizens.

Toynbee argued that Greece’s economic development; based on colonization and commerce; together with the maintenance of the political sovereignty of the very small territorial units of the city-state; created an imbalance that could not last.  The city-states; if they did not want to return to autocracy and economic backwardness; should have created a pan-Hellenic political organization to manage problems.  In the same way that Greece failed to mitigate the anarchic character of relations between city-states; Western civilization may flounder and fail.

As Toynbee wrote in Mankind and Mother Earth:

“Evidently few people are ready to recognize that the institution of local sovereign states has failed repeatedly, during the last 5,000 years, to meet mankind’s political needs, and that, in a global society, this institution is bound to prove to be transitory once again and this time more surely than ever before.”

Toynbee placed his hope in creative leaders; those with the vision of world citizens; who, seeing the challenges of the times; would respond with the creation of new more just and peaceful institutions. He placed high hopes in those working for a united Europe which would put an end to the Germany-France-England tensions which had led to two World Wars (2). Toynbee believed that civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively.

However, unlike Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West (1918), Toynbee believed that decline was not inevitable, but that there could be regenerative forces in response to challenges. Those with a world vision and strong energy must come to the fore. Toynbee’s call to enlightened leadership remains a call to us for action.

Oswald Spengler. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R06610 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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George Russell Rapprochement of Cultures.

George Russell: To see things in the germ, this…

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

“Are there not such spirits among us ready to join in the noblest of all adventures— the building up of a civilization —so that the human might reflect the divine order? In the divine order there is both freedom and solidarity. It is the virtue of the soul to be free and its nature to love; and when it is free and acts by its own will, it is most united with all other life” George Russell: The Song of the Greater Life.

The Irish Poet.

George Russell (1867-1935) a world citizen was an Irish poet, painter, mystic, and reformer of agriculture in the years 1900 to the mid-1930s. He wrote under the initials A.E. and was so well known as A.E. that his friends called him “A.E.” and not “George”. He was a close friend and co-worker with William Butler Yeats who was a better poet and whose poems are more read today. Both A.E. and Yeats were part of the Irish or Celtic revival which worked for a cultural renewal as part of the effort to get political independence from England.

Ireland lived under a subtle form of colonialism rather than the more obvious Empire in Africa or India where domination was made more obvious by the distance from the center of power and the racial differences. The Irish were white, Christian, and partially anglicized culturally. English and Scots had moved to Ireland and by the end of the 19th century became the landed gentry.

Struggle and Sacrifice.

Thus Russell and Yeats felt that there had to be a renewal of Irish culture upon which a state could be built. Yet for A.E. political independence was only a first step to building a country of character and intellect “a civilization worthy of our hopes and our ages of struggle and sacrifice”. He lamented that “For all our passionate discussions over self-government we have had little speculation over our own character or the nature of the civilization we wished to create for ourselves…The nation was not conceived of as a democracy freely discussing its laws, but as a secret society with political chiefs meeting in the dark and issuing orders.”

For A.E. the truly modern are those engaged in meditation and spiritual disciplines, a way of reaching “the world of the spirit where all hearts and minds are one.” Unless the Celtic peoples create a new civilization, they will disappear and be replaced by a more vigorous race. An Irish identity must be open and unafraid of assimilating the best that other traditions have to offer. As A.E. wrote “To see, we must be exalted. When our lamp is lit, we find the house our being has many chambers…and windows which open into eternity.” As he said of Ireland, “a land where lived a perfectly impossible people with whom anything was possible.”

The Irish Free State.

When the Irish Free State was created in 1919, the island was partitioned, Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom. Tensions between the Free State government and the Republicans who rejected the partition led to a civil war. Even after the civil war’s end in 1923, Republican resistance and general lawlessness continued throughout the 1920s.

During its first decade the Free State government faced a serious crisis of legitimacy. It had to assert the new state’s political and cultural integrity in the face of partition and the lack of social change. In its economic structures, legal system, post-colonial Ireland looked much like colonial Ireland. Therefore the government stressed an “Irish culture” of the most repressive and narrow form. The Roman Catholic Church had a unique and virtually unquestioned monopoly on education in Ireland.

Popular Irish nationalism had been structured around the antithesis between Ireland and England, and this continued after independence when it was said that all “immorality” — obscene literature, wild dances and immodest fashions — came from England. After 1923, the Catholic hierarchy fulminated most consistently and strongly against sexual immorality, not merely as wrong, but, increasingly from the 1920s on, as a threat to the Irish nation.

The Farmers’ Co-operative Movement.

To counter this narrow, state organized vision of culture, A.E. put all his energies into a revival of rural Ireland through organizing the Farmers’ Co-operative Movement. He stressed that “the decay of civilization comes from the neglect of agriculture. There is a need to create, consciously, a rural civilization. You simply cannot aid the farmers in an economic way and neglect the cultural and educational part of country life…On the labours of the countryman depend the whole strength and health, nay, the very existence of society, yet, in almost every country politics, economics, and social reform are urban products, and the countryman gets only the crumbs which fall from the political table. Yet the European farmers, and we in Ireland along with them, are beginning again the eternal task of building up a civilization in nature — the task so often disturbed, the labour so often destroyed.”

The Avatars.

Both A.E. and Yeats came from Protestant backgrounds and were deeply influenced by Indian thought reading the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads where sexual passion is the link between body, soul, and spirit. In his only novel The Avatars, A.E. wrote “such was the play of Helen which made men realise that beauty was a divinity. Such was the play of Radha and Krishna which taught lovers how to evoke god and goddess in each other.”

The Avatar in Hindu thought is a spiritual being which takes human form in order to reveal the spiritual character of a race to itself such as Rama, Krishna or Jesus. In Indian thought the Avatar was always a man and came alone. But in A.E.’s story the Avatars are a man and a woman who teach the unity of all life as seen by the love between the two.

One Life.

There is but one life, divided endlessly, differing in degree but not in kind. “The majesty which held constellations and galaxies, sun, stars and moons inflexibly in their paths, could yet throw itself into infinite, minute and delicate forms of loveliness with no less joy, and he knew that the tiny grass might whisper its love to an omnipotence that was tender towards it. What he had felt was but an infinitesimal part of that glory. There was no end to it.”

A.E. knew that he was going against the current of the moment. As he wrote “There never yet was a fire which did not cast dark shadows of itself.” At the end of the novel, the Avatars are put to death, but their teaching goes on “It is this sense of the universe as spiritual being which has become common between us, that a vast tenderness enfloods us, is about us and within us.” Yet below the surface of narrow tensions in Ireland A.E. saw that “We are all laying foundations in dark places, putting the rough-hewn stones together in our civilizations, hoping for the lofty edifice which will arise later and make all the work glorious.”

The last Years

He lived the last years of his life in London, outside of Irish politics. He had a close friendship with Henry Wallace who became the first Secretary of the USA New Deal in 1933 and saw in the efforts to help the depression-hit farmers under Wallace his hope for rural renewal.

*Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Climate Change Appeals

U.N. Focus on Consequences of Climate Change.

Featured Image: Photo by William Bossen, Unsplash

On 20 March 2023, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a Synthesis Report based on its three previous reports covering eight years of work. The IPCC is a panel of 93 scientists co-chaired by Hoesung Lee of South Korea and Valerie Masson-Delmotte of France. The Synthesis Report stressed that:

“Prioritizing equity, climate justice, social justice, and just transition actions are needed for climate resilient development.”

Climate Change.

There are three billion people who live in areas that are highly vulnerable to climate change. One of the consequences of climate change is to increase migration from these vulnerable areas. The concept of safe and orderly migration has not yet been put into practice. Climate change also has a negative impact on food production.

The IPCC, created in 1988, makes recommendations for action, put policies have to be established and carried out by governments. Thus, a UN conference will be held in New York this September. The recommendations of the IPCC also influence the policy proposals of non-governmental organizations whose influence on climate issues is growing.

U.N. Water Conference.

At the same period as the presentation of the IPCC report a related U.N. Water Conference, 22-24 March, was held in New York. The conference stressed that fresh water is a crucial resource and that the future well-being of the world society will depend on how well we manage this global supply of fresh water.

Today, some 26 percent of the world’s population lack access to safe drinking water. There are falling water tables in many countries. Much fresh water is polluted by untreated wastewater, nitrates from agriculture, and the release of hazardous chemicals. Climate change seems to have created increased rainfall variability.

Trans-Frontier River Systems.

The U.N. Water Conference highlighted an issue which has been a focus of the Association of World Citizens: the management and necessary cooperation of trans-frontier river systems. The management of trans-frontier river systems has a strong political colouring and a potential for conflict as we see with the Jordan River, the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates and the Ganga.

The IPCC and the U.N. Water Conference have set out the challenges facing both governments and non-governmental organizations. Cooperation for joint action is needed. Building on this awareness of the need for cooperation is vital. We must work actively on the next steps.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Erich Fromm Rapprochement of Cultures.

Erich Fromm: Meeting the Challenges of the Century.

Featured Image: Erich Fromm. By Müller-May / Rainer Funk / CC BY-SA 3.0 (DE)

By Rene Wadlow.

I believe that the One World which is emerging can come into existence only if a New Man comes into being – a man who has emerged from the archaic ties of blood and soil, and who feels himself to be a citizen of the world whose loyalty is to the human race and to life, rather than to any exclusive part of it, a man who loves his country because he loves mankind, and whose views are not warped by tribal loyalties.
                                                        
Eric Fromm Beyond the Chains of Illusion.

Eric Fromm (1900-1980), the psychoanalyst was concerned with the relation between personality and society. His life was marked by the socio-political events of the century he faced, especially those of Germany, his birthplace.

Erich Fromm was born into an orthodox Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main.  The families of both his mother and father had rabbis and Talmudic scholars, and so he grew up in a household; where the significance of religious texts was an important part of life. While Fromm later took a great distance from Orthodox Jewish thought; he continued a critical appreciation of Judaism.

He was interested in the prophets of the Old Testament, but especially by the hope of the coming of a Messianic Age – a powerful theme in popular Judaism. The coming of the Messiah would establish a better world; in which there would be higher spiritual standards but also a new organization of society.  The Messianic ideal is one in which the spiritual and the political cannot be separated from one another. (1)

Sociology and Psychology.

He was 14 when the First World War started and 18 when the German State disintegrated – too young to fight but old enough to know what was going on and to be impressed by mass behavior.  Thus; he was concerned from the start of his university studies with the link between sociology and psychology as related ways of understanding how people act in a collective way.

As was true for German university students of his day; he was able to spend a year or a bit more indifferent German universities: in Frankfurt where he studied with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory; whose members he would see again in New York when they were all in exile, at the University of Munich, at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, and at the University of Heidelberg from where he received a doctorate.

Main building of the Ludwig Maximilian University, MunichBavariaGermany. By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.

He had two intellectual influences in his studies: Sigmund Freud whose approach was the basis of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and Karl Marx; a strong influence in the Frankfurt School.  Erich Fromm chose a psychoanalyst path as a profession, learning and, as was required in the Freudian tradition; spending five years in analysis.  Fromm, however; increasingly took his distance from Freudian orthodoxy; believing that society beyond family relations had an impact on the personality.  

However; he also broke one of the fundamental rules of Freudian analysis in not overcoming the transfer of identification with his analyst.  He married the woman who was his analyst.  The marriage broke after four years perhaps proving the validity of Freud’s theories on transfers and counter-transfers.

Colorized painting of Sigmund Freud. By Photocolorization, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Buddha.

Therefore, Erich Fromm’s reputation and his main books rest on his concern with the relation of individual psychology and social forces – the relation between Freud and Marx. However; probably the most fundamental thinker; who structured his approach was the Buddha; whom he discovered around the age of 26. It is not Buddhism as a faith that interested him – Buddhism being the tradition built on some of the insights of the Buddha.  Rather it was the basic quest of the Buddha that interested him: what is suffering?  Can suffering be reduced or overcome?  If so, how?

Erich Fromm saw suffering in the lives of the Germans among whom he worked in the late 1920s; individual suffering as well as socio-economic suffering. For Erich Fromm, there must be a link between the condition of the individual and the social milieu; a link not fully explained by either Freud or Marx.

Multiple rows of golden statues of the Buddha seated, with yellow and red flowers, at Wat Phou Salao (Golden Buddha temple), in PakseLaos. By Basile Morin, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Art of Loving.

Erich Fromm had enough political awareness to leave Germany for the United States just as Hitler was coming to power in 1933. From 1934; he was teaching in leading US universities. In 1949 he took up a post as professor at the National Autonomous University in Mexico but often lectured at US universities as well.

Erich Fromm’s work is largely structured around the theme of suffering and how it can be reduced.  There is individual suffering. It can be reduced by compassion and love. One of his best-known books is The Art of Loving. Love is an art, a “discipline”, and he sets out exercises largely drawn from the Zen tradition to develop compassion toward oneself and all living beings.

Memorial plaque, Erich Fromm, Bayerischer Platz 1, Berlin-SchönebergGermany By OTFW, Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

There is also social suffering which can be reduced by placing an emphasis not on greater production and greater consumption but on being more; an idea that he develops in To Have or To Be. Fromm was also aware of social suffering and violence on a large scale and the difficulties of creating a society of compassionate and loving persons.  His late reflections on the difficulties of creating The Sane Society (the title of a mid-1950s book) is The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.  We still face the same issues of individual and social suffering and the relation between the two.  Erich Fromm’s thinking makes a real contribution as we continue to search.

Note.

(1) See his You Shall Be As Gods for a vision of the Jewish scriptures as being a history of liberation.

Rene Wadlow, President,  Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Romain Rolland Rapprochement of Cultures.

Romain Rolland: The Cosmopolitan Spirit.

Featured Image: Romain Rolland on the balcony of his home (162, Boulevard de Montparnasse, Paris), 1914. View to the south-south-east. The building at the center belongs to the church of the monastary of the Sisters of Visitation (68 bis, Avenue Denfert-Rocherau), and the cupola at the far right is the observatory of Paris. By Agence de presse Meurisse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the major voices of the spirit of Citizens of the World is Romain Rolland (1866-1944). He is the symbol of those who would not let war destroy the cultural bridges between peoples, especially during the 1914-1918 World War.

Romain Rolland came from a French family with many generations in the legal profession. However, from his secondary school days on, his interest was in music, painting, history, and literature. Early he was drawn to German music, especially Wagner and Beethoven. Later he wrote an important biography of both Beethoven and Handel. He did his university studies at the prestigous Ecole Normale Superieure, a specialized higher education school which trains university professors. He was in the same class as Paul Claudel who became a diplomat and well-known poet.

At university he became interested in Russian literature and started a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy whose ideas he admired. After his studies, he received a scholarship to study in Rome in order to write his doctoral thesis on the history of opera. He also collected information for later articles on Italian painting.

French poet, playwright and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887). By Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy: The Law of Love.

Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine.

On his return to Paris, he started teaching on the history of art and the history of music at the Sorbonne, the leading French university. He wrote a number of plays dealing with the French Revolution and began his collaboration with Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine , a literary journal edited by Charles Péguy, a poet and writer who increasingly wrote on political subjects.

In 1903, Rolland began publishing in Les Cahiers what became his major novel

Jean-Christophe which came out first in sections over a 10-year period and led to his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. In his novel, Jean-Christophe is a young German intellectual, a friend of young French intellectuals. The novel has as its leitmotif that friendship can overcome political divisions such as those created by the 1871 German-French war and the annexation by Germany of Alsace and Lorraine.

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

Guns of August.

Romain Rolland had often spent his summer vacations in Switzerland, beginning when he was a boy with his parents. Thus, he was spending the summer of 1914 in Switzerland when the “guns of August” marked the start of the First World War. Because of his age, 48, and his fragile health, Rolland was exempt from French military service. He stayed on in Switzerland to work with a Red Cross-related International Agency of Prisoners of War in Geneva.

However, later, his enemies claimed that he was anti-patriotic and had left France for the safety of Switzerland. As he was already well known as a writer and intellectual, he was interviewed and asked to write articles for the leading Geneva newspaper, Le Journal de Genève as well as for the newly created intellectual journal Demain (Tomorrow). He brought these articles together in a book Au Dessus de la Mélée (Above the Battle) though later he thought that “Au-dessus de la haine” (Above hate) would have been the better title.

Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

As a result of the war, Rolland decided to stay on in Switzerland and bought a house at Villneuve, the opposite end of the lake from Geneva. The house was in the park of a well-known hotel where the many visitors to Rolland could stay. He lived at Villeneuve for 26 years until 1938 when nostalgic for the area of his boyhood, he bought a house in central France and moved in shortly before the start of the Second World War.

It was from Villeneuve that Rolland turned his attention toward India and the contribution that Indian thought could make to a Europe destroyed by its divisions and hates. Thus Rolland turned to the two living Indian thinkers whose contribution he thought crucial: first Rabindranath Tagore and then Mahatma Gandhi.

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rabindranath Tagore: The Call of the Universal Real.

 Image: Gandhi spinning at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.

He also wrote books on two related Indian religious thinkers: Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. As Rolland never learned to speak or read English, he had to count on his sister Madeleine who lived in his household much of the time. There is little original in his portraits of Ramakrishna (1929) and Vivekananda (1930) but because of Rolland’s fame, the biographies were widely read and so introduced the two to a wider French-reading public, well beyond the narrow circle of specialists on Indian philosophy.

Famous photograph of Ramakrishna (1836-1886). By Abinash Chandra Dna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Higher detail image of Swami Vivekananda, September, 1893, Chicago, On the left Vivekananda wrote in his own handwriting: “One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee.” By The original uploader was Dziewa at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Hesse and Hermann Keyserling.

In Rabindranath Tagore, Rolland found a common cultural bridge-builder as well as a fellow Nobel Prize for Literature holder. Both Tagore and Rolland saw literature, music and painting as instruments of broad world cooperation and avenues of understanding. In his letters to and discussions with Tagore, Rolland stressed the possibilities for cultural inter-penetration, advising against the imposition of either civilization on the other. Rolland was interested in spiritual and cultural revitalization following the lines of his friend Hermann Hesse and Count Hermann Keyserling. Rolland hoped to introduce Indian thought into the European framework intellectually and morally drained by the 1914-1918 War. Rolland used his influence to promote the translation and publishing of Indian writers in Europe.

Hermann Hesse. By See page for author, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Graf Keyserling, German philosopher. By AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope.

However, it is as the popularizer and exponent of Gandhi’s thought that Rolland played a crucial role for nonviolent action. Gandhi was the embodiment of many of Rolland’s positions: a non-Leninist opposition to imperialism and a concern for movements of national independence. For Rolland, Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope and a political alternative to the pervasiveness of force in the West. Nonviolence would give to the demoralized pacifists; who had been unable to prevent World War I a vigorous faith and an experimental tactic for social change.

Romain Rolland asserted that the real enemy in the nonviolent struggle was personal weakness and the lack of faith − not the presence of entrenched and violent enemies.

“We do not fight violence so mush as weakness. The road to peace is through self-sacrifice.”

As with the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda biographies, Rolland had to depend on his sister’s translations to write his 1923 biography of Gandhi based largely on Gandhi’s writings about South Africa, Gandhi’s articles in Young India as well as Tagore’s letters to Rolland which often mentioned Gandhi. Rolland’s short biography sold well, some 100,000 copies the first year followed by translations into Russian, German and English.

On a more personal level, one English reader of Rolland’s biography was Madeleine Slade who asked Rolland to write to Gandhi so she could join Gandhi’s ashram. Rolland did, and Slade, renamed Mira by Gandhi, became a close disciple and served as intermediary between Rolland and Gandhi until the 1939 start of the Second World War when correspondence between India and France became impossible. Rolland’s fragile health prevented him from traveling to India and the only face to face meeting was in 1931 when Gandhi, from negotiations in London went to Villeneuve to meet Rolland.

In his autobiographic Discovery of India Jawaharlal Nehru wrote:

“In recent years that great European and typical product of the best European culture, Romain Rolland, made a more synthetic and very friendly approach to the basic foundations of Indian thought: for him East and West represented different phases of the human soul.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, Former Prime Minister of India. By AFP staff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Richard St. Barbe Baker Rapprochement of Cultures.

Richard St. Barbe Baker: The Life of the Forests

Featured Image. Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

Today, there is a growing awareness that cooperation is required to protect and manage integrated ecosystems which cross national frontiers.  This is particularly important in the case of forest management.  Trans-frontier conservation cooperation, in which two or more States cooperate in the management and the conservation of forests has increased a good deal in recent years.

Much of this effort is due to the work of world citizen Richard St. Barbe Baker.  From the late 1920s to the early 1980s, Richard St. Barbe Baker traveled the globe, warning of the dangers of forest destruction, forest clear-cutting, and the greedy waste of natural resources.

We had supper together in Geneva in 1964, and he recounted his experiences in the Sahara trying to prevent the southward movement of the desert toward the Sahel  States.  He told me of his adventures in the Sahara with a European driver who wanted to kill himself by pushing  the team to its limits.  Fortunately, St. Barbe Baker, who had a deep spiritual base, was able to convince his teammate that life was worth living.  Even without wanting to kill oneself, the study of the Sahara was difficult.  St. Barbe Baker tell the story in his book Sahara Challenge (1954).

Sand dunes of Erg Awbari (Idehan Ubari) in the Sahara desert region of the Category:Wadi Al Hayaa District, of the Fezzan region in southwestern Libya. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

Men of the Trees.

Richard St. Barbe Baker was born 9 October 1880 in Southhampton, England and learned the art of planting trees from his father, a Protestant minister devoted to the conservation of Nature.  After his studies at Cambridge University and service in the British Army in the First World War, he went to the then British colony of Kenya and began his work on forestry protection.  He first worked among the Kikuyu, a major tribe which already had ceremonies to be in harmony with the forests and the trees. He recognized their value and methods protecting and sustaining the forests.

In 1922, he created the society “Men of the Trees” which is the group most associated with his efforts.  He stressed that there is a need for conservation of genetic resources, wise management and utilization of existing natural forests with due regard to their long-term productivity.

Baker stressed the need to view the earth as a living whole and described the role that trees played in regulating weather, conserving soil, and regulating rivers.

In the introduction to the republication of his book My Life My Trees, Peter Caddy of the Findhorn community wrote:

Here is the life of an Earth healer, struggling against apathy, indifference and plain greed – a man ahead of his time …If one man can do so much, what coundn’t we achieve if all of us worked together.” (1)

Subsistence Forestry .

Skillful conservation and management of forests is vital to people who practice “subsistence forestry”.  In subsistence forestry, trees and tree products are used for fuel, food, medicine, house and fence poles and agricultural implements.  In some cultures, before taking anything from a tree, an offering is given, thus making an exchange.

For those of us who do not live from subsistence forestry, there is still the need to pay close attention to trans-frontier conservation which plays an essential role in the protection of ecosystems.  These areas provide possibilities for promoting biodiversity and sustainable uses across politically-divided ecosystems.

Plaque marking a tree planted by St Barbe Baker in PowerscourtEnniskerryIreland. By User:SeamusSweeney, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note.

1) Richard St. Barbe Baker. My Life My Trees (Forres: Findhorn, 1985).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Edmond Privat Rapprochement of Cultures.

Edmond Privat: The Inner Light.

Featured Image: Esperanto World Congress, Vienna 1924. Prominent group of participants, from left to right: Lidia Zamenhof, Edmond Privat, Klara Zamenhof (1924). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

17 August is the birth anniversary of Edmond Privat in 1889 − a leading world citizen of the first wave of world citizen action closely associated with the League of Nations.  It was natural for Privat, a citizen of Geneva, to be drawn to the efforts of the League of Nations.  He served from 1923 to 1927 as the vice-delegate for Iran.  In the early League days, many States did not have a permanent representative to the League and so named an “intellectual personality” to represent the country. 

The Interpreter and Orator.

Privat also worked at different times at the League as an interpreter from English to French.  In those days, there was no simultanious interpretation but only consequtive interpretation. The interpreter, standing near the speaker had to convey some of the same drama in his voice. Privat was an experienced orator, one of the first to make regular radio broadcasts and so was much appreciated as an interpreter. At the time, the League Secretariat staff was small, and there was a good deal of interaction among the staff and the government delegates.  Thus Privat, already a political journalist, could follow closely world events and the League efforts.

Privat served as an interpreter for Fridtjof Nansen, whose work for World War I refugees and relief to Russia after the Revolution, marked Privat who developed a life-long concern for refugees and relief from hunger.

Fridtjof Nansen is a model for Erik Werenskiold’s bust of him in the artist’s studio. Half figure. By National Library of Norway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Romain Rolland and Gandhi.

Privat was a close friend of Romain Rolland who lived during the 1920s and 1930s at Villeneuve near Geneva.  Romain Rolland was one of the first in Europe to write about the philosophy-in-acts of Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi had gone to London in 1931 for a government roundtable on the future of India.  Romain Rolland invited Gandhi to Villeneuve and asked Privat to translate for him and to organize two public talks for Gandhi. Privat was much impressed with Gandhi, and Privat and his wife left shortly afterwards for India to report on Gandhi’s efforts, resulting in a book Aux Indes Avec Gandhi.

Romain Rolland, Nobel laureate in Literature 1915. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Through Rolland and Gandhi, Privat became interested in Indian philosophy and shared Gandhi’s views that there was an inner light that was  a common core of all the world’s religions.  

As Privat wrote :

The Inner Light opens us to the sense of the universal and the eternal. The Inner Light can recognize no frontier and can exclude no one. The Inner Light can make no distinctions of race, color or social condition. Love can not be bound by passports or visas. The Inner Light is seen not in words but in attitudes and acts.”

Mahatma Gandhi. By Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Esperanto Congress.

Privat had a life-long passion to promote the universal.  He looked for ways to build bridges among peoples and had learned Esperanto from childhood. As a secondary school student, he attended the first universal Esperanto congress in France in 1905. He then took on the task to organize the next Esperanto congress in Geneva in 1906.  Privat had a talent as an organizer and virtually to the end of his life in 1962, he was organizing conferences, creating committees as well as writing articles.

During the First World War, he was sent as a war correspondent to Poland where he met Ludoviko Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto.  Later Privat wrote a biography in Esperanto Vivo de Zamenhof, translated into many languages.  From his observations in Poland, he became a champion for the liberation of Poland from Russian influence.   In 1918, Privat published L’Europe et l’Odyssée de la Pologne aux XIX siecle.

L. L. Zamenhof  (1859–1917). Universala Esperanto-Asocio. By L. L. Zamenhof, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Wars.

Privat’s observations of the First World War and its consequences confirmed his earlier conviction that war was evil and the result of narrow nationalism.  To overcome war, there was a need for a cosmopolitan – world spirit.  People needed to think of themselves as citizens of the world.  He saw the League of Nations as a first step toward a federation of the world.  After the Second World War, he worked actively for a stronger United Nations and the creation of a “Second Chamber” to which people would be elected rather than being appointed by governments as is the case for the UN General Assembly. He published Trois experiences federalistes (USA, Suisse, S.D.N.) on federalism as an approach to a stronger world structure.

Privat’s vision of the unity of the world included a strong emphasis on the equality between women in men − this in a country where, at the time, women could not vote or hold public office.

Today, much of the cosmopolitan-world citizen emphasis is on understanding the forces leading to world integration. Not all “globalization” works for the benefit of all people.  Nevertheless, trends are to ever grater interaction among the representatives of governments, transnational corporations, and non-governmental organizations – social movements. There is less emphasis on a common language of communication such as Esperanto.  It is likely that English plays the role that some hoped that Esperanto would become, although Esperanto still has its chanpions.  Privat is an important symbol of those who worked between the two World Wars for new positive attitudes and strong inter-governmental structures that would create a climate of peace.  The tasks still  face us today.

o: Edmond Privat, drawing, 1925 (made during the UK in Geneva), photo archive of AdUEA, BHH of eo: UEA. By Oszkár Lázár (1890–), Geneva, Rue Lévrier 3, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizen.

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Denis de Rougemon Rapprochement of Cultures.

Denis de Rougemont (1906-1985), The Future is within us.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Self-government will be; first of all; the art of getting people to meddle in things which concern them.  It will soon call for the skill of challenging once again; decisions which concern them; and which have been taken without them…Self-government specifically consists in finding one’s own way along uncharted paths.       


Denis de Rougemont.

         Denis de Rougemont; was an intellectual leader among world citizens often walking on uncharted paths.  A French-speaking Swiss; after his studies of literature at the University of Geneva; at 25, he moved to Paris where he quickly became part of a group of young; unorthodox thinkers who were developing a “Personalist” philosophy. 

The Personalists around Emmanuel Mounier, Alexandre Marc, Robert Aron and Arnaud Dandieu were trying to develop an approach based on the ‘Person’ to counter the strong intellectual currents of communism and fascism; then at their height in European society. (1)  De Rougemont was one of the writers of the 1931; Manifesto of the New Order; with its emphasis on developing a new cultural base for society.

Robert Aron. By Norabrune, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Powers of the State.

         For de Rougemont; revolutionaries attempting to seize power; even from the most repressive regimes; invariably fall into the power structures; they hoped to eliminate.  Only the power we have over ourselves is synonymous with freedom.  For the first time; the person has not only the need; but also the power and ability to choose his future.

He wrote; “The powers of the State are in direct proportion to the inertia of the citizens.  The State will be tempted to abuse them; as soon as it thinks there are signs that the citizens are secretly tempted; to let themselves slide back into the conditions of subjects…Dictatorship requires no imagination: all we have to do is to allow ourselves to slide.  But the survival of mankind in an atmosphere; we can breath presupposes the glimpsed vision of happiness to be achieved; a ridge to be crossed; a horizon.

         “ The model of society; which Napoleon established by a stroke of genius with a view to war and nothing else; is the permanent state of emergency; which was to be the formula of the totalitarian states from 1930 onward. Everything is militarized; that is, capable of being mobilized at any time, spirit, body and goods.”

The Nazi movement.

         In 1935; De Rougemont lived in Germany as a university lecturer in Frankfurt.  There he was able to see the Nazi movement; at first hand and had seen Hitler speaking to crowds. He later wrote of this experience. “The greatest theologian of our time, Karl Barth wrote:

A prophet has no biography; he rises and falls with his mission.”

This may be said of Hitler; the anti-prophet of our time, the prophet of an empty power, of a dead past, of a total catastrophe; whose agent he was to become.  Hitler; better than orthodox  Communists, Fascists, Falangists and Maoists; answered the basic question of the century; (which is religious in the primary sociological sense of rebinding) by offering a comradeship, a togetherness, rituals, from the beat of drums by night, and by day to the sacred ceremonies of Nuremberg.”

         One of de Rougemont’s early essays was “Principes d’une politique de pessimisme active”. He and those around him saw the dangers and the opportunities; but were unable to draw together a large enough group of people to change the course of events.  As he wrote “From the early thirties of this century; young people who were awakened; but without ‘resources’ were laying the foundations of the personalist movement.  They knew that the totalitarians were going to win — at least for a tragic season — and tried to put into words the reasons for their refusal; in the face of this short-lived triumph.”

covershot. By CHRIS DRUMM, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Love in the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident).

         In 1939, he published his most widely read book Love in
the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident)
where he traced the idea of
romantic love from the Manichaeins, through theBogomiles, to the
Cathari to the poetry of the troubadours.

         During the war years, he lived in the USA writing and broadcasting on the French section of the Voice of America. In 1946 he returned to Europe, living most of the rest of his life near Geneva.

There he became highly active in the movement for European federalism, but he was critical of the concepts of a European Union as integration of existing States; He remained loyal to the position he set out in the mid-1930s. “Man is not made on the scale of the huge conglomerates which one tries to foist on him as ‘his fatherland’; they are far too large or too little for him.  Too little, if one seeks to confine his spiritual horizons to the frontiers of the Nation-State; too large if one tries to make them the locus of this direct contact with the flesh and with the earth which is necessary to Man”.

The Federalism.

         He put an emphasis on culture stressing a common European civilization but with great respect for the contributions of different European regions.  His idea of federalism was to build on existing regions, especially trans-frontier regions.  He was an active defender of ecological causes, seeing in the destruction of nature one of the marks of the over-centralization of State power. 

Thus he was stringing against the nuclear power industry which he saw as leading to State centralism.  As he wrote:

Starting afresh means building a new parallel society, a society whose formulae will not be imposed on us from above, will not come down to us from a capital city, but will on the contrary be improvised and invented on the plane of everyday decision-making and will be ordered in accordance with the desire for liberty which alone unites us when it is the objective of each and all.”

  • See
    Jean-Louis Loubet Del Bayle Les Non-Conformistes des années 30 (Paris :
    Seuil, 1969)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Dag Hammarskjold Rapprochement of Cultures.

Dag Hammarskjold. Crisis Manager and Longer-Range World Community Builder…

Featured Image: Photograph of Dag Hammarskjöld(1953). By Caj Bremer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dag Hammarskjold (29 July 1905 -18 September 1961).

You wake from dreams of doom and −for a moment− you know: beyond  all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing; love’s calm unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn. Dag Hammarskjold  Markings.

United Nations Command.

Dag Hammarskjold became Secretary-General of the United Nations at a moment of crisis related to the 1950-1953 war in Korea; and he died in his plane crash in 1961; on a mission dealing with the war in the Congo.

The first Secretary-General of the UN, Trygve Lie; had resigned in November 1952 due to  the strong opposition of the Soviet Union; and its allies to the way the United Nations Command operated in Korea. Even though it was called the “United Nations Command”; the main fighting forces and the logistic support were provided by the United States.

Trygve Halvdan Lie. By atelier Benkow, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Svenska: Dag Hammarskjöld. (1950s). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Person from a Nordic Country.

Among UN Security Council members and other important delegations; it was felt that, given the way Trygve Lie was pushed out before a second term; he should be replaced by a person from a Nordic country; and the name of Dag Hammarskjold started to be proposed as a suitable candidate from an appropriate country, Sweden. It took five months of discussions before on 10 April 1953; Hammarskjold took office in New York.

Little in his background or experience had prepared Hammarskjold to be a crisis manager. He came from a distinguished Swedish family.  His father had been Prime Minister; and other members of his father’s family had been civil servants or military officers.   On his mother’s side; the family had been well-known Lutheran clergy and academics.

“Only he deserves power who everyday justifies it” .

Dag Hammarskjold was known for his active interest in literature, art and music − interests which he continued throughout his life.  However; he was trained in economics and by age thirty-six; he was chairman of the National Bank of Sweden; concerned with long-range economic trends.  He was not a stock-market trader having to make quick decisions with very incomplete information to “buy or sell”.

Hammarskjold had a very strong sense of duty. As he wrote to himself in 1951; in a dairy published after his death as Markings (1) “Only he deserves power who everyday justifies it.”

The UN Development Program (UNDP)’s.

Hammarskjold came to the United Nations just as socio-economic development; was being considered as a permanent mandate for the UN Secretariat.  At the time of the creation of the United Nations in 1945; economic and social issues were considered as the functions of specialized agencies; formally related to the UN through the Economic and Social Council; but in effect, independent with their own governing boards, budgets and administrative procedures: the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, and UNESCO, FAO, ILO, WHO, all located in Europe. 

By 1949; influenced by the “Point Four” idea of US President Harry Truman; there started to grow the idea that the UN itself should become operative in providing economic, administrative, and technical assistance. A modest “Expanded Program of Technical Assistance to Underdeveloped Countries” was created in 1949; and through different incarnations has become the UN Development Program (UNDP)’s, complex and multi layered activities.

Very nice color portrait photograph of President Harry S. Truman seated in a chair, half figure (1952). By US Navy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Economic and Social Programs.

Hammarskjold was a strong supporter of economic and social programs.  He appointed well-known and active economists to guide these programs.  By training and temperament; he would have wanted to follow economic and social issues; as he saw such programs as important buildings blocs of the world community.

However; it was as a crisis manager that he filled his days.  These were often long days; and he was able to work for 18 hours a day for long stretches of time.  He started as Secretary-General when the war in Korea was ending; but peace had not been established.  Korea was still divided into two hostile States; a large number of people had been uprooted and much of the economic infrastructure destroyed. 

Montage for the Korean War Main Page in Wikipedia. By Madmax32, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Leave it to Dag”.

The French war in Indochina was still going on; and many observers feared that there could be a generalized Asian conflict.  In 1952; the UN General Assembly created the “Commission on the Racial Situation in South Africa” – the start of a decades-long concern.  The French war in Indochina was followed by the start of the war in Algeria.  In April 1955; the “Asian-Africa Conference” was held in Bandung, Indonesia; a sign that decolonization would stay on the agenda of world issues for a long time.  In November 1956; the first session of a UN Special General Assembly condemned the military aggression of the UK, France and Israel against Egypt; which later led to the use of UN Peacekeeping forces.

Dag Hammarskjold became an expert crisis manager; to the point that there was a common slogan in the UN- “Leave it to Dag”. He liked to work alone; but had created a team of people working under him; who were highly competent and totally devoted to him.

MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, Weak but Necessary.

His Last Crisis-Management.

His last crisis-management effort was in the former Belgium Congo; which had become independent in July 1960; followed quickly by violence, the breakdown of public order, the murder of the former Prime Minister Lumumba, the effort of Moise Tshombe to create a separate state in Katanga, and the sending of UN troops.  USA-USSR Cold War tensions increased over Congo issues. Hammarskjold was to try an effort of mediation at the airport of Ndola; now in  Zambia; when the UN plane crashed, and all were killed.

Shortly after assuming office Dag Hammarskjold set out his view of his task as a world public servant faced by conflicting government − a vision which he fulfilled fully.

The Secretary-General should express with full frankness to the governments concerned and their representatives the conclusions at which he arrives on issues before the organization.  These conclusions must be completely detached from any national interest or policy and based solely on the principles and ideals to which the governments have adhered as members of the United Nations.”

This remains the guidelines for the UN Secretary General. It  is important to recall the drive and initiatives of Dag Hammarskjold.

Official Congo government portrait of Patrice Lumumba as the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1960). By unknown, Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) government, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Moise Tshombe arrives in Toulouse (1963). By André Cros, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

 Note.

Dag Hammarskjold. Markings (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1964, 222pp.)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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