Listen to the words of the United Nations 2nd Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, written outside the meditation room he installed in the UN Visitor’s Lobby, and sung as a plainsong chant by Quaker Paulette Meier:

We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense. It has been the aim to create in this small room a place where the doors may be open to the infinite lands of thought and prayer.

The spiritual renaissance begins in every person’s heart, their Room of Silence. By inviting everyone on this planet to find their center of stillness surrounded by silence, Dag Hammarskjöld changed the definition of peace and global security from outside ourselves to within each of us, the first step of United Nations reform. We call this spiritual renaissance ‘leadership from the inside out.’ Listen to Dr. Sarah Sayeed speak from her heart of her Muslim Faith. Sarah is a Reconciliation Leader with a strong belief of leadership from the inside out.

Barbara Wheeler, co-author of Divine Encouragement: Living with the Presence of Hope (Xlibris 2003), supports leadership from the inside out:

There is a quiet place within every human soul, a quiet place which beckons me–come, listen, discover and learn. I find this place by opening my innermost sacred door. No key is needed; I only heed the desire to be in the presence of and connected with the divinity of my own humanness.

We invite emerging and seasoned leaders to join us to find your center of stillness surrounded by silence, open your innermost sacred door, re-examine your mission, learn new skills, and develop a broad worldview for a Reconciliation Leadership approach to leadership including a Code of Ethics as written in Politics and Conscience about Hammarskjöld’s leadership needed for our times.

Hammarskjöld’s definition of citizenship:

Everybody today with part of their being belongs to one country, while with another part they have become a citizen of a world which no longer permits national isolation. Seen in this light, there could be no conflict between nationalism and internationalism, between the nation and the world. The question is not either the nation or the world, it is how to serve the world by service to your nation and how to serve the nation by service to the world.

Dag Hammarskjöld on the Art of Ethical Leadership

Hammarskjöld wrote the following during his mission to the Middle East–the occasion for the first exercise of shuttle diplomacy–to reduce or eliminate border conflicts:

“Understand—through the stillness. Act—out of the stillness. Prevail—in the stillness” (Markings, 1955, p. 127).

If you are intrigued, you might ask:

  • What is this center of stillness?
  • Is the center of stillness an alien thing or oddly familiar though perhaps untried?
  • Is this approach possible for me?
  • Does it imply a personal discipline of mind and heart that I already practice, or that I could practice if I could learn it?

Leadership and Development for the Global Problématique

In a 200-year present, we offer opportunities for professionals to learn four levels of competency to build on their mission statement: personal, interpersonal, systemic and global . Our approach to leadership and development has been restoring faith in leadership at the United Nations since 1992 for the Global Problématique and a world in need of leadership. In this crossroads moment of institutional, social, ecological and economic global history our research and practice is needed more than ever.

The Code of Ethics that Hammarskjold lived by, and that we incorporate in Reconciliation Leadership training, provides an ethical template for leadership for our times. Included in the Code is the Way of a Statesperson which shows one’s spiritual/religious quest and understanding in relation to one’s public role; self-knowledge, perseverance, patience, courage, and maturity of mind. See an interview with author Dr.Roger Lipsey about Dag Hammarskjöld’s Code for Global Ethics Day for the Carnegie Council’s International Ethics Day 2020.

The Institute’s commitment to a Spiritual Renaissance or global rebirth began in 1992 and was formally introduced at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace with vocationally-called Reconciliation Leaders facilitating a Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service. The work of the Institute drew on the image astronauts have shared of the earth from space. As the late U.S. Senator John Glenn wrote,

“When I circled the planet again and again, I experienced different people, different cultures, vastly different experiences and origins. Yet there is a golden thread that runs through all these expressions of individual experience that is the magic of life.” Experience what the astronauts saw in the dated but effective brief film By Wonder Are We Saved.

A Phoenix came to Virginia in a dream on the night of 9/11/01, the night after the World Trade Center attack, while she was in New York City working at the United Nations. As a bird of resurrection, rebirth and regeneration, the Phoenix, identified itself as our global soul with a spiritual and moral essence that the world had failed to cultivate and nourish.

A full view of the mural. 1/Aug/1985. UN Photo/Lois Conner. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/

The Phoenix brings a spiritual renaissance with forgiveness of human frailties.

It symbolizes love as a hearth that the faithful may gather around.

Enmity must pass from humanity.

Generosity and compassion mark the enlightened man and woman.

Our hearts will recognized other enlightened people.

A common Creator recognizes everyone as brother and sister.

Humanity can conquer fear and loneliness and experience a perpetual birth of daily love, adoration and joy.

The Phoenix asks us to look for the dawning in one another.

(Excerpted from My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership: A New Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11, page 137)

After meditating with the Phoenix for 17 years, Virginia was prompted to initiate America’s Soul Community in 2017, to take America beyond individual and group egoism—a renaissance that would help the USA overcome the fear and mistrust that keep us so separate and isolated from each other and from the rest of the world. Virginia addressed the problematic role of the United States in the UN, with dialogues about America transforming itself into being an equal global partner on the world stage.  Through the Phoenix, we transform the current moral and spiritual leadership in America, to bring love, forgiveness, and compassion to the world. 

Virginia’s dream of the Phoenix inspired her to develop a mandate to work with others to build a global ethic to restore faith in leadership. Through the Institute for Global Leadership she founded after 9/11, she is a partner with Global Ethics Day of the Carnegie Council for International Ethics by hosting educational events.  For more, here.   

In the Phoenix context of a shared moral and spiritual vision for the world, the Institute supports the call from UN Secretary-General António Guterres to restore the United Nations mandate by re-launching his Covid19 Global Ceasefire on UN Day, October 24, 2020. In a June 24, 2020 presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Academic Council for the United Nations, the Institute supported this initiative by offering a strategy called Image and Action for Peacebuilding.

The Phoenix, given as a vision of peace after the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations, is pictured below in a mural, painted by the Norwegian artist Per Krogh in the colors and style reminiscent of a tapestry, was donated in 1952 by Norway to the United Nations. It decorates the Security Council Chamber. The mural symbolizes the changes which the world will undergo because of the efforts of the UN, and of mankind in general, to achieve peace, equality, and freedom. There have been more than 350 wars since then.  Humanity has failed keeping the peace since the founding of the United Nations.

Through the dream of 9/11, the United Nations is given another chance through the intervention of the Phoenix rising from the ashes of ground zero. Through the intervention, we are invited to learn why we are here on the earth right now and what we can do to be of service in partnership and collaboration with others so that we can creatively participate in co-creating our destiny.  

“I have found the following words to be especially relevant during this time of challenge and transition.”

Virginia Swain

If you wonder how to live in these times, rejoice in the ordinary,

embrace the simple

For in these things the Spirit remains indelible. 

Be at peace with your brothers and sisters, the Earth.

Devise ways of praise which are genuinely from your heart and celebrated by your spirits.

Rejoice in your humanness, your maleness, your femaleness.

Look for the Spirit in all things and

You will see blessings flow in abundance.

Recognize the Light in the least of things.

If you would seek majesty, look to the smallest fleck of sand

For it contains the essence of All Knowing and All Love

For it, like you,

Is a substance energized by Love.

(from Meditation #8 Divine Encouragement: Living with the Presence of Hope by Michael E. Collins and Barbara V. Wheeler ©Xlibris 2003)

*Hammarskjold is widely attributed to calling for a spiritual renaissance even though his latest biographer Roger Lipsey, said he never said it. We follow his spiritual leadership example by reading his journal, Markings, published posthumously and invite others to follow his example by living out their lives from the inside out. Lipsey’s memoir, Hammarskjöld: A Life, gives a splendid and engrossing history of Hammarskjöld as UN Secretary-General. Hammarskjöld’s use of the masculine has been updated to include women.