History, Havel, Conversations and Compromise

 The adage says, “History repeats itself.” This truism should guide us towards understanding the value of the occurrences of the past and, oftentimes, to apply today the lessons they have offered since their inception. Sometimes these lessons are concealed and require thought and persistence in uncovering. On the other hand, sometimes they simply jump out at you.
Such was the case recently when I was reading Vaclav Havel’s memoir “Disturbing the Peace”. The book is presented in a question and answer interview format, and one of the discussions immediately drew to mind a short conversation I had had not long ago…
     Someone asked me who I planned on voting for in the next presidential election. I answered that I would be voting for Ron Paul, even if it required writing his name in. Their quick response took me by surprise.
 
“You’re just going to waste your vote?”
 
     It is a fair question and I understand why it would, and should, be asked, but I still was a bit startled as it almost seemed to be more of an accusation than an inquiry due to the tone and speed of the retort. I offered back something to the effect of, “I’d rather place my vote for the values that I hold to than the lesser of two evils.” This answer is true, but I really should have had a more fleshed-out, adequate response ready at the time. That was basically the end of the conversation although minutes later I heard snippets of a discussion coming from another room in which the futility and stubbornness of my tentative choice were being remarked upon. It didn’t sit too well with me but I soon forgot about it. That is, until I reached the discussion I mentioned earlier in Havel’s book.
 
     For those who don’t know, Havel was both a resistance writer and playwright in the late 20th century when Czechoslovakia was a Communist state. Along with organizational efforts, Havel wrote many diplomatic charters, political propositions and underground newsletters that were greatly influential in bringing his countrymen back to power in the Velvet Revolution. His writings as a political prisoner are thought to be some of his most influential. In 1989, he was elected President of his country. He served the position well and passed away of natural causes not to long ago. I find the man to be fascinating and very much enjoyed reading his contemplative answers and philosophical meanderings in the book. Strangely enough, though much of the world knew him as a political figure, he always recoiled when referred to as a politician and repeated that he was not and never would be a politician. Paralleling this, my interest in his spiritual commentary and thoughts is much greater than that of his political decisions or viewpoints. This excerpt of the book, however, deals mostly with politics and morality.
 
     The pages that follow are what brought to mind the conversation I had had a few weeks ago. The implications are far-reaching, however, and offer insight for a myriad of situations and choices. They speak much in regards to motivation, persistence and determination. Hope you enjoy despite the shoddy presentation. 



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