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Death of a bona fide statesman

December 23, 2011
The Journal

To the editor:

The Journal is to be commended for the generous printing space it gave this week Monday to report the death of Vaclav Havel. There he is correctly described as the hero of the anti-communist revolution in Czechoslovakia. He was a prime mover of what has been called the Velvet Revolution because it was achieved by diplomacy, not by gunshot. Under the communist regime his fearless defense of human rights put him in and out of prison five times, then after the revolution his courage won him his country's first democratically elected presidency.

Unlike what seems to be a majority of our politicians in the Congress, he contended for what was right and had to be done in-behalf of his people and his country without fear of not being re-elected. He put festering problems which needed solution and correction above service to self. He did not have to face an electorate largely loathe to moderate its standard of living and tighten its belt He was among the few international officeholders of this past hundred years who possessed the wisdom and foresight of a genuine statesman.

In February, 1990, one year after the Velvet Revolution and almost twelve years before 9-11, Havel was invited to address a joint session of the US Congress. The following excerpt from his speech will let the man speak for himself:

"Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being human, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed, whether it be ecological, social, demographic, or a general breakdown of civilization, will be unavoidable. We are still a long way from "the family of man "; in fact, we seem to be receding from the ideal rather than drawing closer to it Interests of all kinds -personal, selfish, state, national, group, and, if you like, company interests - still considerably outweigh genuinely common and global interests. We are still under the sway of the destructive and thoroughly vain belief that man is the pinnacle of creation, and not just a part of it, and that therefore everything is permitted him. We still don't know how to put morality above politics, science, and economics. We are still incapable of understanding that the only genuine core of all our actions - if they are to be moral - is responsibility. Responsibility is something higher than my family, my country, my firm, my success. It is the benchmark where all our actions are independently recorded and only where they will be properly judged."

Ted Hartwig

New Ulm



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