Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.
This poem – “Bani Adam” or “Children of Adam,” written by 13th century Iranian poet Sa’adi – is woven into a carpet at the entrance to the Hall of Nations at the United Nations Building in New York.
The poem, in this English translation (although there are many), appears there because it speaks to the necessity of global interdependence for world peace.
But it has also been invoked on a more personal scale as a declaration of the need for empathy. For example, in a 2015 editorial in the journal Child’s Nervous System, a group of Iranian physicians and surgeons noted that, “Sa’adi considers empathy as an essential quality in humans’ behavior.” Continue reading →