Vaclav Havel Did Not Die Today

18 December 2011

“Historical experience teaches us that any genuinely meaningful point of departure in an individual’s life usually has an element of universality about it. In other words, it is not something partial, accessible only to a restricted community, and not transferable to any other. On the contrary it must be potentially accessible to everyone; it must foreshadow a general solution and, thus, it is not just the expression of an introverted, self-contained responsibility that individuals have to and for themselves alone, but responsibility to and for the world…

A new experience of being, a renewed rootedness in the universe, a newly grasped sense of higher responsibility, a newfound inner relationship to other people and to the human community—these factors clearly indicate the direction in which we must go.”

Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless” 1978

These understandings have animated the Stories Exchange Project since we began developing it with colleagues and friends of Vaclav Havel in Prague in 1995.

The portal and staircase on this page are part of additions to Prague Castle designed for Havel’s predecessor in grounding politics in thoughtful humanity, Tomas G. Masaryk: another moral philosopher who founded and served as President of the first Czechoslovak Republic.

Wherever we may find ourselves, today in Morocco and the U.K. during these early years of what we hope can in fact become an Arab—but also a Berber and a Jewish, and a European and an American — Spring, we will continue to walk through this gate and up and down and around these stairs in Prague, and try to keep in mind and to show in action what Havel wrote a decade before he and his circles of friends began building a new world on the ruins of the Berlin Wall.

And of course this is only one of an incalculable diversity of ways that men and women of all ages around the globe can and will find to keep Vaclav Havel’s extraordinary legacy growing.

John W. Erwin
Mitchell Chanelis

Stories Exchange Project Morocco

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