My November 17th Wish: If only nobody, nowhere and never had to live on their knees

When I watch the country I come from, from far away, from overseas, I must say that the country is neither distant, nor small to me. Any country’s importance depends on how much you love it, on whether it is a country of your origin, whether you care about its fate. When I visited the Czech Republic, I was, indeed, really surprised by the warm reception and the immense understanding. Troubles and even bitter moments now and then are part of life; but human life should not be governed by them.

I experienced two totalitarian regimes crushing human lives – one I experienced first-hand, the other one second-hand. When commemorating the 17th of November, we remember the students arrested by the Nazi regime and the students beaten by the Communist regime – in both cases the students only asked to live as normal people. Informally speaking – we do not want to live in a world where a small group promotes lies and hate, where such people arrest, murder and torture others. This is something I have been striving to fight all my life. Not because I am some kind of a special hero or because I was keen to be decorated or to be paid tributes to. My only motivation was that of a common man – every thinking and feeling being does such things spontaneously.

Nevertheless, what I want to speak about is what the word “homeland” means to me. It is a place we feel affiliated with – because that is where we come from; it is a place where people we love live and we care about their future. Our grandparents lived there and next generations will live there and it is right to ask for freedom and dignity, to be allowed to choose who will govern their country and who will not. So that people do not need to say one thing privately and another thing publicly, so that people can be proud of their statesmen, scientists, sportsmen and skilful workers; to be happy to show their country to foreign visitors and pride themselves on it.

I met a lot of beautiful people back home, both young and older. I have noticed that when people care for good life and freedom, it shows in their faces. You know, freedom is beautiful and unfreedom is ugly. Freedom is life and unfreedom is death. This is my November 17th wish: If only nobody, nowhere and never had to live on their knees.