Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Vàclav Havel

I'm looking forward to the time when Vàclav Havel becomes a poet and a writer of plays once more. The following is from an essay written by him and translated by Paul Wilson in the New York Review of Books called A Farewell to Politics that deserves attention:
I am saying only this: to set out on the path of reason, peace, and justice means a lot of hard work, self-denial, patience, knowledge, a calm overview, a willingness to risk misunderstanding. At the same time, it means that everyone ought to be able to judge his or her own capacity and act accordingly, expecting either that one's strength will grow with the new tasks one sets oneself or that it will run out. In other words, there is no more relying on fairy tales and fairy-tale heroes. There is no more relying on the accidents of history that lift poets into places where empires and military alliances are brought down. The warning voices of poets must be carefully listened to and taken very seriously, perhaps even more seriously than the voices of bankers or stock brokers. But at the same time, we cannot expect that the world -- in the hands of poets -- will suddenly be transformed into a poem.
His three observations, lessons learned, or perhaps just reinforced from his time in politics, at the end of the essay are ones we might all wish to consider.