From Prague to Helsinki
About five years ago, Pat and I visited Prague, Czech Republic. Walking around in that historic Bohemian city was a fascinating experience.
In Wenceslaus Square, a tour guide talked glowingly about Vaclav Havel, a pioneer for Czech freedom(1977–89) and later, their first post-Soviet President in 1990. Vaclav Havel had addressed a huge crowd of Czech citizens from a balcony there, in Wenceslaus Square. That crowd-gathering event culminated in the historically peaceful “Velvet Revolution,” which ultimately brought democratic liberation that drove out Soviet communist domination.
Here’s an explanation of how the Czech people peacefully apprehended their nation away from the Soviets. This plaque was posted in a Prague museum display that depicted what life was like for Czechs and Slovaks in the pre-liberation communist eastern Europe.
This summer, I am reading a collection of speeches that Vaclav Havel — playwright/President had delivered, over the course of his latter-20th-century lifetime, to his fellow Czechs, and to other Europeans and to many gatherings of world leaders and avid listeners around the world.
I was reading, In his speech-laden memoir, The Art of the Impossible, a message he had delivered to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 1990. The speech was delivered less than a year after the Czechs and their like-minded eastern-European brethren had sent the Soviets packin’, back to their Soviet digs in Moscow.
As years had passed in post-Soviet eastern Europe, Vaclav Havel became a leader of international reknown, and rightfully so. Leading his Czech fellow-citizens as the first post-Soviet elected President of Czechoslovakia, Havel offered a unifying suggestion to his fellow-European heads-of-state.
At the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, May 1990, the bold Czech President spoke highly of The Helsinki Accords, a treaty which and been agreed upon in 1975. He told them it would be an appropriate unifying framework into which the Czechs, the Slovaks, Hungarians, Poles and other post-Soviet eastern European nations could enter into a security agreement with the other European nation-states.
President Havel emphasized the principles of unity and security that could be actuated and strengthened using the Helsinki Accords as a basis.
As I was reading his message a few nights ago, the mention of Helsinki in this collection of Vaclav Havel’s liberating orations reminded me of a recent connection that I have made to that far-north capital city, Helsinki.
Helsinki is the home base of Anssi Lihtonen, a podcaster with whom I recently communicated online, as I provided musical content and conversation for his musical survey radio show.
Anssi, domiciled way up north there on the south coast of Finland, listens to music that has come to ears from different parts of the world. When he finds music that meets his high listening standards, he communicates with the musicians, interviews them, and features their music on his “radio” (whatever that means nowadays) show up there in the far north and throughout the world wide web.
So, a couple of nights ago, when I was reading Vaclav Havel’s high opinion of the Helsinki Accords, I thought of my one and only online Helsinki friend, Anssi.
And I thought perhaps you might want to hear what he and I talked about during our “radio” show conversation on the wwweb Cosmic Turtle show.
Check it out: Cosmic Turtle