25 July 2008

Václav Havel

"I leave it to those more qualified to decide what can be expected . . . "from above" - that is from what is happening in the sphere of power. I have never fixed my hopes there; I've always been more interested in what was happening "below," in what could be expected from "below," what could be won there, and what defended. All power is power over someone, and it always responds, usually unwittingly rather than deliberately, to the state of mind and the behavior of those it rules over." ~ Václav Havel (1986)
In The New York Times today is this profile of Václav Havel ~ play write, former anti-communist dissident and officially proclaimed "public enemy," former President of Czechoslovakia, former President of the Czech Republic and, once again, play write. (The Financial Times ran this interview with Havel earlier in the month.) A good many of Havel's views are quite foreign to me, as I've mentioned here before. But, as this profile I think makes clear, the world could use more odd-ball leaders like him. It surely could use many fewer of the mercenary types we are burdened with now and seem destined to endure into the future. Perhaps, as Havel suggests, it is a mistake to look too hard for anything like leadership in the halls of power.

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