One of my first encounters with Czechoslovakia after stepping off a CSA TU-134 (at that time still Československé aerolinie) at Prague airport in January 1990 was with the hundreds of posters of Václav Havel on the walls. And those posters were everywhere in this city that had liberated itself from communist oppression. The posters read “Truth and Love must prevail over lies and hatred”. Václav Havel wore an Civic Forum (OF) badge on his sweater. A badge I was lucky to get back then, and that I still have.
Real life catches up with idealism pretty fast and Václav Havel himself had to see part of his ideals translate into day to day policies that saw Czechoslovakia break up, the difficulties of reforming a communist economy with its social hardships, not to mention petty politics.
He might have been sometimes less considered in Slovakia than in the Czech Republic because of the effects of reforms on a very backwards Slovakia, but still…My girlfriend’s eyes watered when I read to her the titles flashing on the big screen where the 24 hours news network TA3 was being broadcasted. And for a moment, my voice itself became shaky, because of the attention and affection I have had for Czechs and Slovaks.
Some people disregard personal comfort in the name of big ideas. Everyone might have big ideas, but not all of us are ready to make sacrifices for them. He went countless times to jail, and kept firm in his vision. He worked with other freedom fighters in Central Europe to make this region a better place.
A great man passed away today. I pay my respects, and share my sadness of his departure, with the certainty that others are ready to shoulder the fight for Truth and Love.