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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2011 / 25 Kislev, 5772

Small country, great leader

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Power is no sure guide to greatness. Or even survival. Quite the contrary. Tyrants can be powerful, yet the powerless can make them tremble. See Moammar Gadhafi, Hosni Mubarak, Bashar al-Assad and a long line of Middle Eastern despots going back to old Pharaoh himself.

One writer from a little country put together after the First World War personified "the power of the powerless." That was Vaclav Havel's phrase for the phenomenon, which even now is on display in Egypt and Yemen and who knows where next.

Playwright and president, in that order, Vaclav Havel wrote his own script for his nation and others. He was a great leader of a small country -- so great his example inspired admiration around the world. May it also inspire imitation.

Vaclav Havel went from prison to the presidency of Czechoslovakia, yet remained himself. He accepted his successes, paramount among them freeing his country without bloodshed, with the same equanimity with which he accepted his failures, like its later division in two between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

How did he summon the lifelong self-discipline to do all that? Maybe because he had a quality that eludes little men who find themselves at the head of great nations: simplicity. He was a hero who disdained any air of heroism, a playwright who loathed theatrics, an intellectual who thought there was something innately suspect about the very idea of a successful intellectual, and a politician who may never have given a pompous, self-centered speech in his life. A rare bird indeed.

The blowhards in politics are always explaining how terribly complicated the world is, and how they have to balance ends and means, for politics is the art of the possible. But that's true only if the politician's standards of what is possible are low enough and his rationalizations slick enough. It takes no art to compromise principle, just a certain moral slovenliness.

Vaclav Havel proved politics can be the art of the impossible, or what certainly looked impossible before he attempted it. For who would have thought his little country, seized by foreign dictators of the right and left alike with equal rapacity, first Hitler and then Stalin, would succeed in breaking the Soviet Union's iron grip? Later the whole Soviet system itself would break down and fall apart. Impossible. Yet it happened.

The playwright-president of a little country somehow defied Soviet Power. Even more impressive, he did it simply, without fanfare. He led a velvet revolution, the kind that lasts rather than the violent model that only gives way to more violence. See the fate of so many hopes that blossomed with the Arab Spring. And now wither with the coming of the Arab Winter.

Vaclav Havel, dissenter extraordinaire, declined even to call himself a dissenter. He only looked like one to the outside world, he would explain, for inwardly he was just doing what anyone with common sense and a conscience would. He had no choice if he was going to live with himself, and act with the dignity befitting any human being.

Leaders of great nations may leave behind biographies/memoirs/self-justifications as widely circulated as they are unread, as lengthy as they are unconvincing. Vaclav Havel continues to inspire. Mainly because of the simplicity of his principles and his following them so naturally. Without pomp and circumstance, just his natural dignity.

Vaclav Havel would do his extraordinary part to bury the Warsaw Pact and gain his country entrance to NATO, the European Union and the West in general. Of all the words he spoke during his long passage from dissenter to head of state, none may sum up his central belief so well as these:

"When a person tries to act in accordance with his conscience, when he tries to speak the truth, when he tries to behave like a citizen, even in conditions where citizenship is degraded, it won't necessarily lead anywhere, but it might. There's one thing, however, that will never lead anywhere, and that is speculating that such behavior will have a specific outcome."

Weigh the odds against particular success before acting, and the cause may be lost before it is launched.

Politicians come and go. Great leaders have an afterlife that illumines the path of future generations. Great leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and, yes, Vaclav Havel, who died this past weekend at 75.

Tyrants come and go, too, leaving only a sense of relief. Some manage to leave their wretched country even worse than they found it, hard as that may be to imagine in some cases. Like that of North Korea. Kim Jong Il also died last weekend.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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