Hope and Vaclav Havel
“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out”
I was introduced to this quotation, from the former Czech president and philosopher, Vaclav Havel, a few days ago by our rector, the Rev Mike Harris. It seems particularly appropriate for our current situation, where we seem torn between the good news that vaccines are now being deployed and the bad news that Covid is raging and for thousands, the vaccine will be too late. Havel is perhaps best remembered as the man who led the peoples of Czechoslovakia from freedom from Russia and who also managed the peaceful division of the country into the Czech republic and Slovakia. As far as I know, he did not identify strongly with any established faith but he had a strong “spirituality”; a sense that it was not enough just to deal with a person’s material needs.
Talk of hope can seem very inadequate; a blind faith that the worse will not happen when it is obvious that it might. The Jews of the Old Testament knew this very well; their history was littered with disasters. And yet, whilst they sometimes raged against God, they had hope that whatever befell them, God was still with them. This was the hope that was shown in the life and especially the death of Jesus; abandoned by even God on the cross but paradoxically trusting that God was still with him. So the Christian hope cannot be wishful thinking; Jesus did die. Instead it is that no matter how hopeless the situation, the love of God can never be excluded. In his own way, I think Vaclav Havel understood this; it is something we can usefully remember in our current hopelessness.