“Hope” ~ Vaclav Havel, 1936-2011

RE: The recent passing of the last president of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel:

When I read that Havel had died, I thought of this passage from a chapter called “The Politics of Hope” in Havel’s book Disturbing the Peace:

TEXT: Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace (1990)
COMICS: Marek Bennett ( www.MarekBennett.com )

I chose this passage because it seemed especially relevant to the political world I see in my own country now (USA), where a president elected on the slogan “HOPE” still issues orders for remote assassinations over distant horizons around the world… Havel is speaking here as a man who has experienced a life that would come to span the prison cell and, in the near future, the presidential palace.  Drawing it out in comics form helped me clarify what I think he is saying.

(All but one set of elipses indicate places where I left out a phrase or sentence in the interest of clarity; I have left out of this comics essay, for example, some of Havel’s comments on religion.)

Havel’s own website carries many of his own writings, including essays like “The Power of the Powerless”, which I can see I will need to study up on as I try to understand the development of Slovak (and Czech) life since the Revolution of 1989…



14 thoughts on ““Hope” ~ Vaclav Havel, 1936-2011

  1. Wonderful exposition of Havel’s words. His death is the passing of an era–he represented so much hope for eastern Europe, as did the Polish union leader, whose name escapes me at the moment. And have always felt that hope and memory are intertwined–that memory can lead back to hope. . . maybe getting too metaphysical here!

  2. Well-done. The images brought out the strength of Havel’s expression of hope. The images make the text more understandable. Very throught-provoking. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Mom… or whoever it is using your account these days! There is definitely something different that happens when you draw out an idea (or read it) in pictures.

  3. Hope is a good thing to have but we live in a world where idealism can carry our nation only so far and practical means must be used to provide for the security of our citizenry. Thank goodness for a President elected on the slogan “HOPE” has the courage, and as you say “order remote assassinations over distant horizons around the world.”

    • Ed — Yes, I think one of the hardest parts of that job (the presidency) must be reconciling ideology (heightened and sharpened by the long campaign) with realism and practicality in the situations that confront us, requiring quick decisions every day. I agree with you — authorizing such serious, horrific security measures certainly does take a lot of courage. I mean to point out the conflict between running on a vague, undefined concept like “HOPE” and then LACKING the courage or imagination to move our foreign policy beyond such techniques. Regardless of the moral implications of the practice, if we kill 1 or 4 or 12 family members for each “target” person, then how many MORE future fanatic enemies are we fostering? There is no “hope” in that kind of “courage.”
      “Hatred will never drive out hate.” (Aileen Vance)

      • Fortunately we live in a democratic republic and it is not controlled by one man or a single point of view. The result of democracy is that it is slow and based on compromise. Just because the President was elected doesn’t mean that the other half of the nation that didn’t vote for him is going to move in the idealistic direction that he wants to. He is pragmatic and understands that the fight for hope is long and hard and will settle for partial success rather than none at all. Just because an enemy doesn’t wear a uniform doesn’t mean that we are not at war and that there won’t be innocent causalities. Strategic bombing of Germany during WW II was horrorific and would never have happened if we idealistically considered the innocent. We could argue endlessly as to cause and effect of our current “war” but our means have been measured and though we can’t eliminate every terrorist, we can make it much less profitable for terror. Call it evil or irrationality but there will always be individuals who think that they know what is best for the many and they are going to be here for a long time to come in whatever form and ideology but fortunately our nation is the best hope for our freedom and that of others to the extent that it can flourish. We hope that one day all men can live together in a common community of respect for on another but until that time we can’t always expect that the path is going to be pretty.

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