"Where did the young people who never knew another system get their desire for truth, their love of free thought, their political ideas, their civic courage and civic prudence? How did it happen that their parents — the very generation that had been considered lost — joined them? How is it that so many people immediately knew what to do and none needed any advice or instruction?"
Excerpt from V. Havel address to the Nation, 1991
To read the full address, visit the Czech Presidency website.
On December 18, WYA joined the world in mourning the loss of Vaclav Havel, the first president of the independent Czech Republic and a preeminent defender of human dignity. Havel entered into politics as a Czech playwright who was discontented with communist oppression. He became the leading figure of the Charter 77 movement that culminated in the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which brought democracy to Czechoslovakia. Havel would then dedicate his life to the fight for political freedom and the defense of the human person.
The work of WYA has been intimately tied to the life of this great leader. Our training program includes his seminal essay “The Power of the Powerless” as part of the canon of writings to understand and articulate the defense of human dignity. Havel viewed the person as having innate dignity, and this view permeated his dissident activities and political leadership. He identified that the fundamental flaw of communism was the denial of the freedom of the person, thus leading to the subsequent abuse of human dignity. By recognizing that the task of each generation is to defend the freedom and dignity of the person, the WYA continues to fulfill this mission and honor the legacy of Vaclav Havel and other great heroes who have inspired us and gone before us.
Members interested in reading Havel and the other writers in our education program are invited to go here in order to receive more information.