|Image copyright European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari
via Creative Commons.
This morning the news reports are focused on the death of Kim Jong-Il. I wish I were hearing more about Vaclav Havel, who also died this past weekend. Both led countries, but while one was an oppressive dictator, the other was a truly great statesman, humanitarian, writer, and truly courageous leader. One practiced totalitarianism; the other spoke out against it and served five prison sentences in defiance of Soviet oppression before becoming Czechoslovakia’s president. That the life and death of a dictator is eclipsing the life and death of one of the 20th century’s greatest people in terms of air time is unfortunate. So today, I’d like to honor and express my gratitude to Vaclav Havel.
When I feel despairing about the state of the world and fear that nothing I do will amount to much in the face of the grave problems we face, the cruelties we perpetuate, I think of Havel, who said this:
“I feel a responsibility to work toward the things I consider good and right. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to change certain things for the better, or not at all. Both outcomes are possible. There is only one thing I will not concede: that it might be meaningless to strive in a good cause.”
If ever I doubt the value of working toward a more humane, peaceful, and healthy world, I remember Havel. I cannot control the outcomes of my efforts, but it will always be meaningful that I do my best and embrace my responsibility to work towards what I believe is good and right.
My his words be of value and inspiration to you, too.
In gratitude to Vaclav Havel.
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