vaclav havel on liberty

As we celebrate America's birthday and appreciate our freedoms, we are stirred by the wisdom of Valclav Havel. With the fall of communism, Havel was elected the first president of Czechoslovakia in 1989.

Excerpts from his talk on July 4, 1996, at the Liberty Medal Ceremony, Philadelphia.

"I turn my thoughts today to the state of the world and the prospects that lie before it. I see an expression of a multicultural era; I see it as proof that something is being born, when one age is succeeding another, when everything is possible. The single planetary civilization to which we all belong confronts us with global challenges. We are rightly concerned by the problem of finding the key to ensure the survival of civilization. We are rooted in the earth and at the same time, the cosmos. The awareness of this connection endows us with the capacity of self-transcendence.  Within the new world order must be the universal respect for human rights that derive from the respect of our miracles of Being, the miracle of the universe. In today's multicultural world the truly reliable path to peaceful coexistence must be rooted in transcendence - a hand reached to those close to us, to foreigners, to the human community, to all creatures living in nature, to the universe. Transcendence is the only real alternative to extinction. The creator gave man the right to liberty.  It seems that man can realize that liberty only if he does not forget the One who endowed him with it. Thank you."