|Václav Havel born on October 5, 1936|
Today, we observe the 82nd anniversary of his birth. The Czech play write, who became a dissident, defended artists, a prisoner of conscience, president of Czechoslovakia, resigned in protest over the Velvet Divorce, then president of the Czech republic and finally citizen and play write once again. All the while he demonstrated his solidarity with victims of repression in his own country and around the world.
This was done not out of a sense of optimism, but out of hope. Consider for a moment how Havel responded to the invasion of his homeland.
In 1968, after Soviet tanks crushed the Prague Spring, an effort by Czechoslovak communist reformers to build socialism with a human face, Havel wrote the following to the Czechoslovak President Alexander Dubcek who had been one of the reformers later purged: "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."
|Václav Havel's signature card for Charter 77|
"Above all, clear and unequivocal solidarity with all those confronted by totalitarian or authoritarian regimes wherever they are in the world. And economic or other particular interests should not hinder such solidarity. Even a minor, discreet and well-intentioned compromise can have fatal consequences– even if only in the long term, or indirectly. One must not retreat in the face of evil, because it is in the nature of evil to take advantage of every concession. Besides, Europe has already had its own unfortunate experience of appeasement policies.
"Our support can help open-minded people or outspoken witnesses to the situation in North Korea, Burma, Iran, Tibet, Belarus, Cuba or anywhere else, much more than we think. But it will help us too. It will help us build a better world and also to be more true to ourselves; in other words, to put into practice the values that we proclaim in general terms."
|Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and President Václav Havel in Prague (2002)|
“Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more unpromising the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is. Hope is not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.