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Vaclav Havel
1936 -

Playwright, president of Czechoslovakia. For nearly 20 years, Havel used his writing and speaking skills to rally public support for democracy and social change in Czechoslovakia. In 1989, the peaceful "Velvet Revolution" which he led ended communist rule in the country and he was elected president. When Czechoslovakia split in 1992, he became the first president of the Czech Republic.

Books by Vaclav Havel
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Art of the Impossible: Politics As Morality in Practice
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Summer Meditations (1993)
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Communism was overthrown by life, by thought, by dignity.

1992 - from Summer Meditations
You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.

We live in a contaminated moral environment. We have fallen morally ill because we became used to saying one thing and thinking another. We have learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only about ourselves. Notions such as love, friendship, compassion, humility, or forgiveness have lost their depth and dimensions.

Jan. 01, 1990 - from his New Year's address to the people of Czechoslovakia
Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to prosecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.

1978 - from The Power of the Powerless
There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.

1986 - from "The Power of the Powerless," in Living in Truth