Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vaclav Havel's Legacy

If there was someone who you could name most deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize and did not--it was former Czech premier Vaclav Havel. The tributes have been pouring in. Here was a man who stood up to the Soviet invaders and articulated why in clear terms why those who lived under totalitarian rule must find ways to resist. From his famous essay The Power of the Powerless,he pinpointed why everyone needs to resist what "above all, any existential revolution should provide hope of a moral reconstitution of society, which means a radical renewal of the relationship of human beings to what I have called the "human order," which no political order can replace. A new experience of being, a renewed rootedness in the universe, a newly grasped sense of higher responsibility, a new found inner relationship to other people and to the human community-these factors clearly indicate the direction in which we must go." These are words that can be applied to our times as well. The people who have driven our economy into the proverbial ditch and the government that stood by and allowed it to happen have contributed to the same kind of implosion of values that the totalitarian regimes were responsible for. Havel's remedy is the right one, " In other words, the issue is the rehabilitation of values like trust, openness, responsibility, solidarity, love...For the real question is whether the brighter future is really always so distant. What if, on the contrary, it has been here for a long time already, and only our own blindness and weakness has prevented us from seeing it around us and within us, and kept us from developing it?"