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Vaclav Havel (1936 – 2011)


Czech writer and dramatist famous for his work in the Theatre of the Absurd, who became a politician and served as the last President of Czechoslovakia, and the first President of the Czech Republic.
Vaclav Havel
Today I would like to thank from my heart all those of you who have trusted me, sympathized with me or in any way supported me. Without your understanding and goodwill I would not have been able to stay in office for even a few moments. I appreciate your support all the more for the fact that I did not try at all costs to obtain it. I frequently even took what was clearly a minority position and so reaped more opposition than recognition. Sometimes I may have been mistaken in this but I would like to assure you of one thing: I have always tried to abide by the dictates of the authority under which I took my oath of office the dictates of the best of my awareness and conscience.
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Full freedom of speech and expression prevails in our country, and freedom of assembly and association is guaranteed.
Havel
Vaclav Havel is the figure that represents the Velvet Revolution and the reunification of Europe. He will be sorely missed.




Havel Vaclav quotes
Cultural conflicts are increasing and are understandably more dangerous today than at any other time in history. The end of the era of rationalism has been catastrophic. Armed with the same supermodern weapons, often from the same suppliers, and followed by television cameras, the members of various tribal cults are at war with one another.
Havel Vaclav
The real test of a man is not how well he plays the role he has invented for himself, but how well he plays the role that destiny assigned to him.
Vaclav Havel quotes
Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
Vaclav Havel
I know we have still done very little, and that the main tasks still lie ahead of us. I would say that we have just completed a year of preparation in which the conditions for a new environment have been created.
Havel Vaclav quotes
What makes the Anthropic Principle and the Gaia Hypothesis so inspiring? One simple thing: Both remind us, in modern language, of what we have long suspected, of what we have long projected into our forgotten myths and perhaps what has always lain dormant within us as archetypes. That is, the awareness of our being anchored in the earth and the universe, the awareness that we are not here alone nor for ourselves alone, but that we are an integral part of higher, mysterious entities against whom it is not advisable to blaspheme. This forgotten awareness is encoded in all religions. All cultures anticipate it in various forms. It is one of the things that form the basis of man's understanding of himself, of his place in the world, and ultimately of the world as such.
Havel
If you want to see your plays performed the way you wrote them, become President.
Havel Vaclav
I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.
Vaclav Havel
The history of the human race has generated several papers articulating basic moral imperatives, or fundamental principles, of human coexistence that maybe in association with concurring historical events substantially influenced the fate of humanity on this planet. Among these historic documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted fifty years ago today holds a very special, indeed, unique position. It is the first code of ethical conduct that was not a product of one culture, or one sphere of civilization only, but a universal creation, shaped and subscribed to by representatives of all humankind. Since its very inception, the Declaration has thus represented a planetary, or global commitment, a global intention, a global guideline. For this reason alone, this exceptional document conceived as a result of a profound human self-reflection in the wake of the horrors of World War II, and retaining its relevance ever since deserves to be remembered today.




Vaclav Havel quotes
Periods of history when values undergo a fundamental shift are certainly not unprecedented. This happened in the Hellenistic period, when from the ruins of the classical world the Middle Ages were gradually born. It happened during the Renaissance, which opened the way to the modern era. The distinguishing features of such transitional periods are a mixing and blending of cultures and a plurality or parallelism of intellectual and spiritual worlds. These are periods when all consistent value systems collapse, when cultures distant in time and space are discovered or rediscovered. They are periods when there is a tendency to quote, to imitate, and to amplify, rather than to state with authority or integrate. New meaning is gradually born from the encounter, or the intersection, of many different elements.
Vaclav Havel
I have had direct experience of this myself. Often, what the press wrote, or did not write, about a remark I made somewhere proved to be of a far greater consequence than the remark itself. Democratic choice in such cases ceases to be a choice between alternatives people are familiar with, and have personally tried, and becomes a choice between alternatives offered by those who run the media.
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Amid the turbulence of modern Europe, his voice was the most consistent and compelling endlessly searching for the best in himself and in each of us.
Havel Vaclav
A genuinely fundamental and hopeful improvement in "systems" cannot happen without a significant shift in human consciousness.
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Sober perseverance is more effective than enthusiastic emotions, which are all too capable of being transferred, with little difficulty, to something different each day.
Vaclav Havel
The previous regime armed with its arrogant and intolerant ideology reduced man to a force of production, and nature to a tool of production. In this it attacked both their very substance and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skillfully working in their own country, to the nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning was not clear to anyone.
Vaclav Havel quotes
In late 1989, the profound transformation that took place in this country brought me here to Prague Castle. It all happened so suddenly that I did not even have time to properly consider whether or not I was up to the task, and I was sincerely of the opinion that I would just take it on for a few months until the first free elections.
Clearly, things turned out quite differently: I have now been here for more than thirteen years, if we discount the short break in the latter half of 1992.
Vaclav Havel
Why do I say this? It would be very unreasonable to understand the sad legacy of the last forty years as something alien, which some distant relative bequeathed to us. On the contrary, we have to accept this legacy as a sin we committed against ourselves. If we accept it as such, we will understand that it is up to us all, and up to us alone to do something about it. We cannot blame the previous rulers for everything, not only because it would be untrue, but also because it would blunt the duty that each of us faces today: namely, the obligation to act independently, freely, reasonably and quickly. Let us not be mistaken: the best government in the world, the best parliament and the best president, cannot achieve much on their own. And it would be wrong to expect a general remedy from them alone. Freedom and democracy include participation and therefore responsibility from us all.
Havel Vaclav
One has to greatly admire the patience with which our society has come to terms with all the challenges of these dramatic times, the extent of which few of us could have anticipated in those heady, revolutionary days.


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