YOU Are a Person: Three Promises of the United Nations

A page from Munro Leaf’s 1957 book, colored by me as a kid, with sunrises for biceps.

What childhood object inspired you? Thanks to Sharon and Steve Fiffer, I wrote a piece on that topic for Storied Stuff: https://www.storied-stuff.com/stories/terao.

            I feel a lifelong connection to the United Nations because of the book, Three Promises to You by Munro Leaf (1957). It summarized, at a child’s level, the purpose of the United Nations. The Three Promises of the book’s title are: No war, Fair treatment for all human beings, and Better living for everybody by sharing what we know. With Leaf’s cartoons, we learn that “whatever you look like, YOU are an important human being – a person.” 

            Inside the front cover I wrote in childish print, “Do not take this Book. Please because it is Barbara’s Book. Thank you.” The irony of my less than generous request and my tight grip on a book about sharing and caring only occurs to me now. Later in life, I happened to formally begin my Buddhist practice, with its goals of both inner and outer peace, on October 24, which is United Nations Day.

            How are the global promises of the United Nations fulfilled? We can make progress toward peace, equality, and shared knowledge day by day. Perhaps the promises are a direction more than a final destination. This simple book is the primer we need right now, getting back to the basics of compassion, science, and democracy. “The United Nations belongs to YOU as much as it belongs to anyone else in the world.”

With my father, who gave me the book, I marched against war and stood up to bulldozers. Now that I am an adult, I can, at the very least, open my tight little fist to share the wisdom of the book’s message. This is the legacy of my parents and my promise to my children. We can work together for peace, happiness, and a more healthy, harmonious world.

2 thoughts on “YOU Are a Person: Three Promises of the United Nations

  1. Susan Habel

    What a gem of a person YOU are! I am surprised my parents didn’t give us kids that book. I’m sure I’d have been tight-fisted about not letting it out of my possession. Not because I would not have wanted to share it’s meaning but precisely because it’s meaning is so simply grand. What a wonderful post. We should see if it’s in re-print. Seems timely, don’t you think so, too?

    Reply
  2. Betsy Fuchs

    Simple and inspiring, your story Barbara, just like the book. I was able to see copies of pages from the book on ebay and until it sells, others can see it too. Cheaper copies are available (of course) from Amazon.

    Reply

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