14th Forum 2000 Conference: Asia Panel

Prague, Czech Republic

President Havel, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

This year, as we end the first decade of the 21st century, we have gathered here to think about an important question; to ask ourselves ‘What kind of world do we want to live in?’ The question itself might seem quite simple. But it is a question that only raises more questions.

Before we even begin to ask ‘what kind of world?’, we need to ask ourselves ‘Who are “we”?’, ‘What do we mean by “we”?’

When we talk about the world we want to live in, we are not talking just about the people here today. We are not talking only about our families, friends, colleagues, and fellow citizens. We are not even just talking about the six billion people living on this planet today.

We are talking about those from whom we inherited this world; those of us who live in and shape the world today, and those who will sustain it long after we are all gone.

One problem is that we all have different ideas about what kind of world we want to live in. Sometimes these ideas compete. Sometimes they coexist. And sometimes they even directly conflict.

Such differences lie at the root of many challenges facing our world today. What can be done about this? More specifically, what can WE – the people here tonight –do about this?

We have all taken on the difficult task of trying to put ourselves in the positions of the countless “We’s” in our world; of understanding the needs of both the humans and the other species with whom we share the planet. We are here to seek ways in which we can work together toward a world that respects, nurtures, and thrives on diversity; a world where people can work together toward an even better world.

This, I believe, has been the vision of the Forum 2000 conferences from the very beginning. It was a vision initially inspired by President Havel’s visit to the city of Hiroshima.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Tomorrow evening we will mark the opening of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Exhibit here in Prague. I believe that we must visit and revisit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In this way we can better understand what happened, how it happened and how it continues to affect our lives and our world.

But I think that we also must revisit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to try to understand just how difficult it is to really understand these things; to remind ourselves just how important it is to keep trying to understand them.

I hope that the exhibit will inspire us to continue our search for shared moral and spiritual values, and encourage us to take steps toward a world that we – past, present, and future generations – will all be proud to live in.