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  • Vaclav Havel died today.

    Dissident and leader of his people, and a voice of common sense and integrity from behind the Iron Curtain, he led his countrymen from their “Absurdistan” of Communism towards the “unbearable lightness of being” of Democracy.

    On his first day in office on January 1, 1990, as the first Democratically elected President of Czechoslovakia, Havel defined the essence of the damage brought on the world by the tide of Red October. In his words, Communism was “a monstrous, ramshackle, stinking machine” whose worst legacy was not economic failure but a “spoiled moral environment.”

    “We have become morally ill because we are used to saying one thing and thinking another,” he said. “We have learned not to believe in anything, not to care about each other. . . . Love, friendship, mercy, humility, or forgiveness have lost their depths and dimension. . . . They represent some sort of psychological curiosity, or they appear as long-lost wanderers from faraway times.”

    In our brave new world of free enterprise derailed by runaway corporate greed, I wonder how we have missed several beta upgrades of the old Absurdistan 19.9.0 and arrived to the 20.1.1 version prettily packaged for us by a different developer – or a different Big Brother, but with similar side effects.

    Today we have other, much more pleasant and addictive bells and whistles to distract us from the environmental and social damage we unleash daily on our world, and each other, without adequate awareness or second thought.

    Real and imagined violence in our culture, staged and sold for thrill and profit, seeps daily into our psyche and makes us care less about each other.

    The corporate bottom line dismisses common sense, mercy and humility as costly and impractical follies.

    Sex is confused with - and commonly given away without - love. It is used to sell practically everything – from toilet paper to tanks -- reducing this most intimate sacred act, and the means of survival of our species to a cheap commodity, and a tool of power, oppression and enslavement.

    Vaclav Havel died today. We lost yet another one of the few honest, courageous voices of wisdom that told the world how it is, and changed history.

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