Zitate von Václav Havel

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Václav Havel

Geburtstag: 5. Oktober 1936
Todesdatum: 18. Dezember 2011
Andere Namen:वैक्लेव हैवेल

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Václav Havel [ˈvaːt͡slaf ˈɦavɛl] war ein tschechischer Dramatiker, Essayist, Menschenrechtler und Politiker, der während der Herrschaft der kommunistischen Partei einer der führenden Regimekritiker der Tschechoslowakei war und zu den Initiatoren der Charta 77 gehörte. Er ist einer der Wegbereiter der deutsch-tschechischen Aussöhnung. Nach der Samtenen Revolution, an der er maßgeblich beteiligt war, war er von 1989 bis 1992 der letzte Staatspräsident der Tschechoslowakei und von 1993 bis 2003 der erste der Tschechischen Republik. Außerdem war er Mitglied in der Schriftstellergemeinde Obec spisovatelů und Ehrenmitglied im Club of Rome.

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„Man as an observer is becoming completely alienated from himself as a being.“

— Václav Havel
Context: The relationship to the world that the modern science fostered and shaped now appears to have exhausted its potential. It is increasingly clear that, strangely, the relationship is missing something. It fails to connect with the most intrinsic nature of reality and with natural human experience. It is now more of a source of disintegration and doubt than a source of integration and meaning. It produces what amounts to a state of schizophrenia: Man as an observer is becoming completely alienated from himself as a being.

„What is needed in politics is not the ability to lie but rather the sensibility to know when, where, how and to whom to say things.“

— Václav Havel
Context: When a man has his heart in the right place and good taste, he can not only do well in politics but is even predetermined for it. If someone is modest and does not yearn for power, he is certainly not ill-equipped to engage in politics; on the contrary, he belongs there. What is needed in politics is not the ability to lie but rather the sensibility to know when, where, how and to whom to say things. International Herald Tribune (29 October 1991) Variant translation: If your heart is in the right place and you have good taste, not only will you pass muster in politics, you are destined for it. If you are modest and do not lust after power, not only are you suited to politics, you absolutely belong there.

„The recent period — and in particular the last six weeks of our peaceful revolution — has shown the enormous human, moral and spiritual potential, and the civic culture that slumbered in our society under the enforced mask of apathy.“

— Václav Havel
Context: The recent period — and in particular the last six weeks of our peaceful revolution — has shown the enormous human, moral and spiritual potential, and the civic culture that slumbered in our society under the enforced mask of apathy. Whenever someone categorically claimed that we were this or that, I always objected that society is a very mysterious creature and that it is unwise to trust only the face it presents to you. I am happy that I was not mistaken. Everywhere in the world people wonder where those meek, humiliated, skeptical and seemingly cynical citizens of Czechoslovakia found the marvelous strength to shake the totalitarian yoke from their shoulders in several weeks, and in a decent and peaceful way.

„It's not hard to stand behind one's successes. But to accept responsibility for one's failures... that is devishly hard!“

— Václav Havel
Context: It's not hard to stand behind one's successes. But to accept responsibility for one's failures... that is devishly hard! But only thence does the road lead... to a radically new insight into the mysterious gravity of my existence as an uncertain enterprise and to its transcendental meaning. As quoted in [http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=767 "Václav Havel: Heir to a Spiritual Legacy" by Richard L. Stanger in Christian Century (11 April 1990)]

„Our country, if that is what we want, can now permanently radiate love, understanding, the power of the spirit and of ideas.“

— Václav Havel
Context: Our country, if that is what we want, can now permanently radiate love, understanding, the power of the spirit and of ideas. It is precisely this glow that we can offer as our specific contribution to international politics.

„There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.“

— Václav Havel
Context: There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world. In other words, I can only recommend perspective and distance. Awareness of all the most dangerous kinds of vanity, both in others and in ourselves. A good mind. A modest certainty about the meaning of things. Gratitude for the gift of life and the courage to take responsibility for it. Vigilance of spirit. [http://old.hrad.cz/president/Havel/speeches/1999/2406_uk.html Address upon receiving the Open Society Prize awarded by Central European University (24 June 1999)] Variant translation: There are no exact directions. There are probably no directions at all. The only things that I am able to recommend at this moment are: a sense of humour; an ability to see the ridiculous and the absurd dimensions of things; an ability to laugh about others as well as about ourselves; a sense of irony; and, of everything that invites parody in this world. In other words: rising above things, or looking at them from a distance; sensibility to the hidden presence of all the more dangerous types of conceit in others, as well as in ourselves; good cheer; an unostentatious certainty of the meaning of things; gratitude for the gift of life and courage to assume responsibility for it; and, a vigilant mind. Those who have not lost the ability to recognize that which is laughable in themselves, or their own nothingness, are not arrogant, nor are they enemies of an Open Society. Its enemy is a person with a fiercely serious countenance and burning eyes.

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„Cultural conflicts are increasing and are understandably more dangerous today than at any other time in history.“

— Václav Havel
Context: Cultural conflicts are increasing and are understandably more dangerous today than at any other time in history. The end of the era of rationalism has been catastrophic. Armed with the same supermodern weapons, often from the same suppliers, and followed by television cameras, the members of various tribal cults are at war with one another.

„His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.“

— Václav Havel
Context: The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin — and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.

„We should not forget any of those who paid for our present freedom in one way or another.“

— Václav Havel
Context: Those who rebelled against totalitarian rule and those who simply managed to remain themselves and think freely, were all persecuted. We should not forget any of those who paid for our present freedom in one way or another.

„Life cannot be destroyed for good, neither … can history be brought entirely to a halt.“

— Václav Havel
Context: Life cannot be destroyed for good, neither … can history be brought entirely to a halt. A secret streamlet trickles on beneath the heavy lid of inertia and pseudo-events, slowly and inconspicuously undercutting it. It may be a long process, but one day it must happen: the lid will no longer hold and will start to crack. This is the moment when something once more begins visibly to happen, something truly new and unique … something truly historical, in the sense that history again demands to be heard. Open letter to Dr. Gustáv Husák, Communist President (8 April 1975)

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„There can be no doubt that distrust of words is less harmful than unwarranted trust in them.“

— Václav Havel
Context: There can be no doubt that distrust of words is less harmful than unwarranted trust in them. Besides, to distrust words, and indict them for the horrors that might slumber unobtrusively within them — isn't this, after all, the true vocation of the intellectual? Speech of October 1989, accepting a peace prize; quoted in The Independent, London (9 December 1989)

„The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order.“

— Václav Havel
Context: The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order. Yet, I think it must be anchored in a different place, and in a different way, than has been the case so far. If it is to be more than just a slogan mocked by half the world, it cannot be expressed in the language of a departing era, and it must not be mere froth floating on the subsiding waters of faith in a purely scientific relationship to the world.

„Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions.“

— Václav Havel
Context: The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse. By itself, the law can never create anything better... Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions.

„They are periods when there is a tendency to quote, to imitate, and to amplify, rather than to state with authority or integrate. New meaning is gradually born from the encounter, or the intersection, of many different elements.“

— Václav Havel
Context: Periods of history when values undergo a fundamental shift are certainly not unprecedented. This happened in the Hellenistic period, when from the ruins of the classical world the Middle Ages were gradually born. It happened during the Renaissance, which opened the way to the modern era. The distinguishing features of such transitional periods are a mixing and blending of cultures and a plurality or parallelism of intellectual and spiritual worlds. These are periods when all consistent value systems collapse, when cultures distant in time and space are discovered or rediscovered. They are periods when there is a tendency to quote, to imitate, and to amplify, rather than to state with authority or integrate. New meaning is gradually born from the encounter, or the intersection, of many different elements.

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