Vaclav Havel, who died on Sunday after a long battle with illness, had a huge impact not only on Czechoslovakia (later the Czech Republic) but also on the world.
A politician, playwright, dissident and an intellectual, Havel gained international fame with Charter 77, a human rights manifesto for which he was imprisoned several times by the communist regime.
During the 1989 Velvet Revolution, he was one of the leading players, a role that pushed him towards the presidency following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet block.
Up to the end of his life, he was active in Czech life, offering media comment on matters of politics and society. But perhaps he will be best remembered as a symbol of democracy and freedom, under the mantra “living in truth”. He once said "truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred." It became the motto of the revolutionary.
Here are some of Havel’s best quotes:
Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.
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.
Hope is a feeling that life and work have meaning. You either have it or you don't, regardless of the state of the world that surrounds you.
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.
If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed.
Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.
Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy.
This interview with Havel was filmed in 2008:
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