Jan Werich: Lesson of Freedom


Jan Werich — Lesson of Freedom Our answer or advice
for the situation we are in, could not be found in the words. But I want to share one
surprising situation with you. I have received — because
I receive many of them — one very thick letter, and I am a curious man,
so I opened this thick one. And there was this book. Someone from Hradec Králové,
whom I don´t know, sent it to me. So I opened it, started to read
and suddenly it came to my mind — this is THE message. Mesage from one big patriot, who sacrificed
his own life due to this patriotism. I would like to spread this message, f.e. this part: „It is good that there are nations
big as elephant and small as pony, and it is good when sometimes
these ´pony ones´ get a lesson, because of their oblivion that
they have to gather together. But no one from them
should be tore apart, because the little ones have the equal
eternal soul as the big ones. We had spoken many times about
the little nations — with ´Daddy´.” ´Daddy´, mister editor, you know who was ´Daddy´? Masaryk, the former president. Yes, T.G.M., and these are words
of his witty son, Jan Masaryk: „We had spoken many times about
the little nations — with ´Daddy´. I was the sceptical one in our family. But the old man never surrender to the idea,
that small ones are more important
in the world, than the big ones. And when someone surrounded just because
he was born as a Czech or Slovak
and not as a Russian or American, Daddy always became mad and called
these people „m´ron” (vul). For him there was difference between
´moron´ (vůl) and m´ron (vul). M´rons were, as he said, more dangerous. In one argument we did not agree —
he believed that little nations — as us — should become bridges
between those big nations. I was never fan of this idea —
bridges are trampled under the feet. But I agreed that you could be
proud equally whether born in Prague,
Bratislava, Moscow or Washington. And I also agreed with this idea — we should
show the world the fruitage of our
political thoughts and actions, and put them aside those from
Washington, Paris, London or Moscow. Little ones could learn from the big ones,
but they can also teach them something. For sure, we should learn from
the big ones, but not copy them
or act like their unconscious echo. The nation — big or small — should never
lose its originality, otherwise it
won´t be a nation anymore. We had spoken many times about
small nations with Karel Čapek —
big poet and big gardener, Karel Čapek — and once during these talks he said:
„Look at this tree. It has big branches,
it has small branches. The big ones support the small ones
and the sap flows through them
to the small ones, but they don´t take the sap from
the small ones. This kind of behavior
should be addapted by big nations.” Mr. Čapek continues: „Human being can confide
in either violence or the idea. But if you belive that we are — as they
taught us in the school — homo sapiens, then the greatness could not be measured
by the amount of possesed tanks and cannons, but by the originality
and deepness of the thoughts. I could give you thousands of examples
that great ideas could grow up in the smallest
czech or slovak village as well as in the great city
with millions of inhabitants.” And then he says: „You know I did not wore out many shoes
by walking into churches and my trousars don´t have
many marks on the knees from kneeling. But I have always believed in one thing —
that the God made us all equal. One is white, one is black, one is beautiful — as you and me — another has small-pox scars. But we all feel cold
when it´s freezing outside, and we all sweat
when the Sun shines. We all have to breathe to survive and once we will be carried away —
we are mortal beings. But immortal as well. And we should not make
slaves from each other. Because of this everyone — whether his daddy
was president or tinker — should have
equal chance to live fulfilled life. No one should ever think that he/she is
better or greater than someone else. Maybe he/she is more clever
or has nicer shirt, maybe is neat-handed
or has bigger muscles, but all of this just oblige
the person, just oblige to do more, more for those with
weaker muscles and worse shirt. But this could be understood
and believed only by those people, who love people. To love people — that´s the whole secret, the only way how to find happiness. And that´s the rule for everybody — for me, for you, for Stalin, for Truman, for the whole world.” Maybe I could add another
interesting thought: „Sometimes I think
we made a mistake when we let only poets and campfire
spokesmen talk about freedom. Poets don´t define things very precisely and campfire spokesmen neither. We should have let teachers
talk about freedom. Children should have learned about freedom
in the school — exactly, precisely, the same way they are taught
to read, write and count. And it should have been compulsory lesson,
very compulsory, every day. And we should have taught them
that freedom is not just „peace and love”
(this poetic call for wings). That there is a difference between
freedom and anarchy. That the freedom should always
accompany discipline. That everyone could do what he/she wants,
but only when it doesn´t hurt someone else. But it´s not easy
with people. They could honour things
only when they lose them. And it applies to freedom as well. Unless someone stands behind you with the gun aiming at your back, dictating what you should
write and say and teach, you do not know
how great it is when you are allowed to write
and say and teach what you really believe in.” So, that is the message. I thank you very much
for this message! For this Lesson of Freedom.

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