16th Forum 2000: “Media and Democracy”

Prague, Czech Republic

President Havel, in the winter of 1995 you visited Hiroshima to discuss how to achieve a “future of hope.” At that time, you were already embracing the desire to create a forum for thinking about humanity on the threshold of the new millennium. Later, you confided in me about your wonderful idea: to have wise men and women from all over the world gather to discuss the threats confronting humankind, as well as our hopes for the future. I remember that day even now—17 years later.

2012 marks the 16th Forum 2000 Conference. But this year, for the very first time, you, President Havel, are not here with us. We have lost our guide in these annual conferences that deepen our spiritual experience. Your absence, the absence of your kind and smiling face, leaves us with feelings of emptiness and sadness.

President Havel, you always taught us something extremely important for living in this chaotic world. You stressed that to fundamentally resolve the many problems we face, it is not enough to simply create new mechanisms, new regulations and new institutions. What is truly needed, you said, is to change the human spirit and change our moral perspective. To change our conscience.

President Havel, you showed us that our task is not to look for clever, but superficial methods. It is not to deal with a disease merely by treating the symptoms. Rather, you said we must each think deeply about ourselves.

It was for this reason that over the past 15 years you chose to take up issues relating to our sense of responsibility, the protection of human rights, the virtue of tolerance, and a commitment to faith and trust. You guided us on our continuing exploration of spiritual, moral and cultural values.

Prague, being located at the crossroads of thoughts and ideas, has long been a witness to humankind’s lies and truths. Our threats and hopes. It has seen times of great social upheaval. For this reason, Prague is the most appropriate place for us to seek to deepen our thoughts and ideas. Ideas launched from Forum 2000 are always filled with hope.

President Havel, your legacy is alive and—here, now, at this very moment. As we move ahead, you will continue to inspire legions. And we know you will continue to look over us as we proceed, responsibly, toward our common goal of realizing the kind of world we want to live in.

President Havel, we are deeply saddened to have lost you. But your spirit—your moral and intellectual leadership—will live on and on, forever.