Vaclav Havel personified the “power of the powerless.” He understood — as John Paul II understood – the value of integrity, the value of truth. The second paragraph in the article below is all too eerily suggestive of the USA in an era characterized by weapons of mass deception, unlawful indefinite detention, warrantless surveillance, and the murder of US citizens and many others by remote control without a declaration of war or any form of due process. What have we become? Havel would recognize us in an instant. We have become all that we feared before.
Washington Post, 19 december 2011
As the heroes of the Cold War walk off into the mist — Ronald Reagan, then John Paul II, now Vaclav Havel — each departure makes that world more distant and foreign. But it is too early for forgetfulness, which would also be ingratitude.
Once in a nightmare, European dissidents lived in prison, in whole nations that were prisons. They were confined to mental hospitals by governments sustained through the promotion of mass delusion. They were forced to make confessions of imagined crimes by regimes that were criminal enterprises.
And then the government of Czechoslovakia went a step too far. In 1976, it arrested a band called The Plastic People of the Universe for offenses against cultural conformity. This was a perfect symbol of communism: a system that could not tolerate the unauthorized singing of songs. The regime’s stupidity undermined its capacity to intimidate.