Thursday, October 03, 2002

A Farewell to Politics

The following speech was given by President Havel in New York on September 19, 2002, at the Graduate Center of the City University, on the occasion of his last official trip to the United States as President of the Czech Republic.

"...I am saying only this: to set out on the path of reason, peace, and justice means a lot of hard work, self-denial, patience, knowledge, a calm overview, a willingness to risk misunderstanding. At the same time, it means that everyone ought to be able to judge his or her own capacity and act accordingly, expecting either that one's strength will grow with the new tasks one sets oneself or that it will run out. In other words, there is no more relying on fairy tales and fairy-tale heroes. There is no more relying on the accidents of history that lift poets into places where empires and military alliances are brought down. The warning voices of poets must be carefully listened to and taken very seriously, perhaps even more seriously than the voices of bankers or stock brokers. But at the same time, we cannot expect that the world - in the hands of poets - will suddenly be transformed into a poem..." By Václav Havel, Translated from the Czech by Paul Wilson
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