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A human action becomes genuinely important when it springs from the soil of a clear-sighted awareness of the temporality and the ephemerality of everything human. It is only this awareness that can breathe any greatness into an action.

VACLAV HAVEL, Disturbing the Peace

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.

VACLAV HAVEL, Disturbing the Peace

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.

VACLAV HAVEL, Disturbing the Peace

Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.

VACLAV HAVEL, attributed, "From Prisoner to President: A Tribute"

We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all -- though naturally to differing extents -- responsible for the operation of the totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim. We are all also its co-creators.

VACLAV HAVEL, New Year's Address, January 1, 1990

People who live in the post-totalitarian system know only too well that the question of whether one or several political parties are in power, and how these parties define and label themselves, is of far less importance than the question of whether or not it is possible to live like a human being.

VACLAV HAVEL, "The Power of the Powerless", Living in Truth

There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves.

VACLAV HAVEL, address upon receiving the Open Society Prize awarded by Central European University, June 24, 1999

Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.

VACLAV HAVEL, Disturbing the Peace


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