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Vaclav Havel

Vaclav Havel Quotes

Quotes by and about Vaclav Havel

(Continued from his main entry on the site.)

Havel: "My honorable task [as newly-elected President] is to strengthen the authority of our country in the world. I would be glad if other states respected us for showing understanding, tolerance and love for peace."

Havel: "Let us teach ourselves and others that politics should be an expression of a desire to contribute to the happiness of the community rather than of a need to cheat or rape the community."

Havel: "Our country, if that is what we want, can now permanently radiate love, understanding, the power of the spirit and of ideas. It is precisely this glow that we can offer as our specific contribution to international politics."

Havel: "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."

Havel: "Self-confidence is not pride. Just the contrary: only a person or a nation that is self-confident, in the best sense of the word, is capable of listening to others, accepting them as equals, forgiving its enemies and regretting its own guilt."

Havel: "It's not true that you should first think up an idea for a better world and only then 'put it into practice,' but, rather, through the fact of your existence in the world, you create the idea or manifest it - create it, as it were, from the 'material of the world,' articulate it in the 'language of the world.'"

Havel: "It is not pleasant for me to have to label myself as a writer or a dramaturgist or a playwright or a politician. I enjoy everything but I am not a specialist in anything."

Hillary Clinton: "Havel and Bill bonded over their mutual love of music. Havel gave Bill a saxophone on Bill's first trip to Prague in 1994, when they visited a jazz club. ... Havel insisted that Bill play with the performers and then accompanied him on the tambourine!"

Hillary Clinton: "Havel invited Madeleine Albright and me to his private home for dinner. ... When my car pulled up, he was waiting on the sidewalk with a bouquet of flowers and a small gift, a sculpted headband made out of aluminum by one of his artist friends." [Hillary Clinton famously wore headbands when she became First Lady.] "After a lively dinner, Havel led us on a walk through the old city."

Madeleine Albright: "He was a serious world leader, and also a moral and intellectual force - and playful in a way that let you know that he didn't take his own fame too seriously. When he gave an autograph, he customarily used a green pen to sign and a red one to draw a heart beneath his name."

New York Times: "Even after Mr. Havel retired in 2003, leaders sought him out, including President Obama. At their meeting in March 2009, Mr. Havel warned of the perils of limitless hope being projected onto a leader. Disappointment, he noted, could boil over into anger and resentment. Mr. Obama replied that he was becoming acutely aware of the possibility."