Vaclav Havel Quotes
- Mini Bio
- Name: Václav Havel
- Born: 5th October 1936, Prague, Czechoslovakia
- Died: 18th December 2011, Vlčice, Czech Republic
- Alma mater: Czech Technical University and Academy of Performing Arts (Prague)
- Occupation: Playwright, poet, politician and president
- Humbleness: He turned down his 1991 Nobel Peace Prize nomination in favour of another candidate
- Presidency: He holds the distinction of being the 10th and outgoing President of Czechoslovakia (29th December 1989 – 20th July 1992) and the first president of the Czech Republic (2nd February 1993 – 2nd February 2003)
- Legacy: On 5th October 2012 Prague Ruzyně Airport was renamed to Václav Havel International Airport after a petition in 2011 showed a large portion of the Czech public supported the idea
- Trivia: Havel was a big fan of Frank Zappa's and soon after his ascendency to president the two met in Prague Castle resulting in Havel choosing Zappa as Czechoslovakia's "Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture and Tourism. The U.S. government was not impressed with this and leaned on the new president to relieve his rock and roll friend of his new position
"Follow the man who seeks the truth; run from the man who has found it"
"The universe is a unique event and a unique story, and so far we are the unique point of that story. But unique events and stories are the domain of poetry, not science"
"The worst thing is that we live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought"
"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"
"Cultural conflicts are increasing and are understandably more dangerous today than at any other time in history"
"The existence of a higher authority than man himself simply began to get in the way of human aspirations"
"The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order"
"We should not forget any of those who paid for our present freedom in one way or another"
"Man is in fact nailed down, to a grid of paradoxes ,he balances between the torment of not knowing his mission and the joy of carrying it out"
"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less"
"It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs"
"Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed"
"Life cannot be destroyed for good, neither … can history be brought entirely to a halt"
"Those that say that individuals are not capable of changing anything are only looking for excuses"
"Education is the ability to perceive the hidden connections between phenomena"
"Man as an observer is becoming completely alienated from himself as a being"
"Nothing is more powerful than individuals acting out of their own conscience"
"There are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended"
"Distrust of words is less harmful than unwarranted trust in them"
"Everything is possible and almost nothing is certain"
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Václav Havel Biography
Václav Havel rose from the playwright poet to the powerful president as he led the 1989 Velvet revolution that tore down the Iron Curtain and broke free from the chains of Soviet communism.
A long time outspoken dissident of the Communist regime he was under constant surveillance and served plenty of jail time as a result including a 4 year stint from 1979 until 1983.
In some ways Havel was the accidental president because whilst being an active dissident came naturally to him the same cannot be said of his presidency as he struggled with the balancing politician act for the greater good of the people at the expense of a minority never sat easy with him.
After gaining power the struggle for democracy never left him as he just cast his net further afield by highlighting the plights of the oppressed around the world with a focus on Burma. In an act of selflessness he refused the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize nomination even though he would have been the stand out candidate to win and instead proposed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who was a political prisoner in Burma.
Vaclav cited that the Czechs had found their freedom and basking in its glory was not a worthy cause while there were other peoples around the world still fighting a tense struggle for democracy. After her ordeal was over Suu Kyi was quoted as saying about him;
"When I was under house arrest I knew that here was a man speaking for me. He made me feel free".
Drawing inspiration from his lifetime of poetry and drama he also became an accomplished speech writer and orator, he was good for a one liner also. So this is my compilation of 20 of the best Václav Havel quotes
Quotes About Václav Havel
Carl Bildt the Swedish Foreign Minister spoke highly of him:
"Vaclav Havel was one of the greatest Europeans of our age. His voice for freedom paved way for a Europe whole and free"
Jerzy Buzek the president of European parliament was equally impressed saying this of him:
"Vaclav Havel is the figure that represents the Velvet Revolution and the reunification of Europe"
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made this assessment:
"Havel was a brave and powerful voice against totalitarianism and an inspiration for dissidents everywhere struggling for freedom"
The U.S. President Barack Obama enthused:
"His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon"
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid him this tribute:
"His dedication to freedom and democracy is as unforgotten as his great humanity … We Germans also have much to thank him for"