Monday, April 30, 2012
I discovered this man in the 1990s while teaching for Israel College. Until then, I did not know it was even possible in the modern world to change the course of political direction without violence. His is a lesson to be learned.
Havel, the tenth and last president of Czechoslovakia, was a playwright, essayist, and poet, as well as, a dissident and politician. In 1989, he became the first President of the Czech Republic, after launching what became known as the peaceful, Velvet Revolution.
Havel wrote numerous plays and non-fiction works, and received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, and the Ambassador of Conscience Award for his promotion of political change without violence.
Like many peace-loving leaders, Havel’s work led to his imprisonment, but also to a radical change in his nation, including its split with Slovakia (which Havel opposed). He led the movement to bring his country into NATO, and started the negotiations for membership in the European Union, which was accomplished in 2004.
Václav Havel, statesman and playwright, born October 5, 1936, died December 18, 2011. Rest in Peace.