Sunday, November 21, 2010

Freedom of Speech

Have you learnt to express yourself during your life time experiences? Are you a born speaker of your mind? Are you honest with yourself and ready to stand up for your thoughts? In the end these questions can only be answered by action.Your action. Do it or don’t do it.
This dilemma came to many of us in the Czech Republic 21 years ago. Should we express our opinions and go to Albertov (in the center of Prague) on Friday, November 17th, 1989 and later next week each day to the Wenceslas Square, when armored carriers surrounded the crowds and police was beating people and filming everybody to assure consequences could be taken? What was the risk of participating for us or for our families? Are we able to stand for our opinions at any price? No-one knew what will be the response from military forces, from secret police or communistic politicians. Many of our parents have already paid their price 21 years before (1968) and thus may not be as optimistic about the outcome. We knew we have just our strong will and naked hands, lighted candles as expression of us being innocent and set of keys to make a symbolic noise. We have had enough of the current system.
Our inexperienced youth and our strong desire to change things for the better gave us the courage to participate in demonstrations and to express ourselves. Freely after so many years of suppression and no ability to raise our voice without punishment . Only an innocent singing of national songs walking home at night with group of friends resulted in being taken over by police and being questionned whole night at the police station, released in the end with a warning to be fired from the University next time. Only an innocent question during lessons of history could cause a trouble, as I realized even myself.  Many teachers themselves were proud to be loyal communists. On the other hand – to my surprise – even some of them were secret heroes. Like the one who was teaching me the subject of Scientific Communism at the University of Economics. He encouraged us already on Wednesday Nov. 15th, two days before the outburst started, to come with candles to Albertov. He said good-bye, see you there … and do not be surprised if our Scientific Communism subject will not continue next week anymore. He definitely had more insights than many of us had at that time. And he decided to speak out his mind and influence us, the 21years-old students. He transformed himself from teacher of communistic ideas to a leader who realized he has to make up for a mistake he has done when choosing this subject for teaching. He has helped to awaken our inner voice to say we have had enough.
We have expressed the courage in the streets of Prague, but we were scared when we heard from radio (the forbidden Voice of America) that one student was killed. We have learnt only several days later, that that this was just a provocation that should manipulate the masses. But our voices started to be much lauder. We felt the power of the higher purpose. We have represented an idea, a possibility. A possibility to live a normal life, a possibility to fight for the World to be a better place even in the Czech republic.
The outcome of these November days 21years ago are well known for everybody.  We have a democracy with its pluses and minuses. The fact that we can express ourselves anywhere anytime is not anymore a perceived value. People take it for granted and focus more on other - e.g. material things.
Many years passed and some Czechs have forgotten the true status of things that we lived during the era of Communism. They complain about current system and say that it was much better then, when everybody had a job and was materially equal (not true, but verbally often articulated by the Communists). They still continue to vote the Communistic party. To my great sadness.
I wish that the Freedom of Speech and Speeches of Freedom will continue to represent a value for us - the Czech citizens. I wish everybody will appreciate the freedom we have helped to establish.
I wish that people will continue to want to make a diference in this World despite possible negative personal consequences. Because if we are not thriving to make the World a better place, we are wasting our time.

P.S. The fact that I am writing this blog on Nov. 21st, about an event happening 21 years ago, when I was 21 years old, and my father that time had a 21st anniversary of his 1968 Prague Spring participance is really only a co-incidence :-).


  1. Jana,

    I am continuously impressed with your excellent blog, and thoughts on business, leading, and branding. Thank you for your contribution to helping others along with their development!

    Thank you, also, for sharing your first-hand account of the important days in Czech history, and in history for changing the world for the bettter. The world says thank you, to you, and to the others who have given of their personal safety to help achieve freedom. There is no possibility for thanking you enough. Everything you have said here inspires me, and others, to live bigger, better lives, and to stand fearlessly in the face of change.

    For it is only with courage that the world can see better days. The Czech Republic is a free country because of your, and others', courage.

    Thank you again for sharing!

    Keep up the great and inspiring writing.

    Jennifer King

  2. My husband and I were with a group of people who did a Reformation Tour this summer, starting in Prague. We loved your city! And we are SO grateful to you and others like you who stood against the tide and spoke your mind. We can see the Key Statue in our minds, as well as Wencelas Square and know exactly what you're speaking of. You all were exceedingly brave and courageous, and I applaud you. For standing up and for writing this first-hand blog on the need for being part of achieving freedom for all. May God bless you.

  3. Thank you Jennifer!
    Thank you Rachel!

    I am really gratefull for your support and encouragement.
    I am astonished by your nice words, as I have never felt like a hero. I was not a leader, just a participant. This story was about having a heart and going for the things that matter, and I see so many similarities in your comments / in your views of life, that I want to thank you for that!
    Thank you for being open, warm-hearted and encouraging!