The Need for Transcendence

September 30, 2011

The truly reliable path to coexistence, to peaceful coexistence and creative cooperation, must start from what is at the root of all cultures and what lies infinitely deeper in human hearts and minds than political opinion, convictions, antipathies, or sympathies – it must be rooted in self-transcendence:

  • Transcendence as a hand reached out to those close to us, to foreigners, to the human community, to all living creatures, to nature, to the universe.
  • Transcendence as a deeply and joyously experienced need to be in harmony even with what we ourselves are not, what we do not understand, what seems distant from us in time and space, but with which we are nevertheless mysteriously linked because, together with us, all this constitutes a single world.
  • Transcendence as the only real alternative to extinction.

– adapted from “The Need for Transcendence in the Post-modern World”, a speech given by Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1994.

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One Response to “The Need for Transcendence”

  1. Suze said

    This speech was delivered seventeen years ago and yet it feels like the words could have been spoken last night. This is the kind of writing, the kind of message, that rises above the roil of information, and endures.

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