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 :: 1936-, Czech Playwright, President

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Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Sense of Humor]

 

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If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Submission]

 

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Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Suicide]

 

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Drama assumes an order. If only so that it might have -- by disrupting that order -- a way of surprising.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Theater]

 

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I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Theater]

 

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People who live in the post-totalitarian system know only too well that the question of whether one or several political parties are in power, and how these parties define and label themselves, is of far less importance than the question of whether or not it is possible to live like a human being.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Totalitarianism]

 

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The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin -- and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Truth]

 

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The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Power]

 

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If you want to see your plays performed the way you wrote them, become President.
~ Vaclav Havel - [President]

 

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Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Protest]

 

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As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Reason]

 

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The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Salvation]

 

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There's always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Intelligence and Intellectuals]

 

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The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse. By itself, the law can never create anything better. Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Law and Lawyers]

 

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I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Literature]

 

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The attempt to devote oneself to literature alone is a most deceptive thing, and often, paradoxically, it is literature that suffers for it.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Literature]

 

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None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Masses]

 

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The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning -- in other words, of absurdity --the more energetically meaning is sought.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Meaning of Life]

 

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True enough, the country is calm. Calm as a morgue or a grave, would you not say?
~ Vaclav Havel - [Oppression]

 

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Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Hope]

 

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