“Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” Vaclav Havel. A very true quotation from somebody who spent his life doing just that. Vaclav Havel was the first president of Czechoslovakia following the fall of communism in 1989, having been arrested and imprisoned for his political views on numerous occasions under the communist regime. He believed in democracy, forgiveness and freedom and refused to punish those who had collaborated with the communists’ secret police.
Havel died in December 2011 when I lived in Prague-it was a Sunday morning and I went for a walk down through Wenceslas Square. On the statue of Saint Wenceslas at the top end of the square there were 4 or 5 candles to Havel’s memory. By the end of the week, there were thousands and thousands of candles, flowers, pictures, scarves etc…along with a huge picture of him hanging from the columns of the National Museum. A genuine and national outpouring of grief for the man who, at the end of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 had gone out onto a balcony in Wenceslas Square and greeted the two hundred thousand people waiting for him with 1 word “Czechoslovakians.”
It must have been quite a party and over the following weeks and months, when as democratically elected president, he led the country towards a free market economy, freedom and, ultimately, the Velvet Divorce and the joining of the EU.
Morals are the theme and the story (although this may be a rather sanitised, romanticised version of it) of Havel and his beliefs certainly represents a man with strong morals, fighting for something because it was the right thing to do but certainly not the easy thing to do.
At this point, I could start talking about bullying, working hard, looking out for each other, listening to each other, questioning and accepting different points of view, studying that extra hour a day but it all seems rather tawdry in comparison to Havel. “Ordinary people doing extraordinary things” is what a friend of mine often says and that is the key. Each one of us has morals, each one of us knows right from wrong, good from bad. Doing the right thing may well not always be the easy thing to do and may not always get us to where we want to be. Morally, however, it has to be done.
Have a great weekend wherever you are and don’t forget to pop in and see us if you are in the area