Havel as Saviour - Amended
More people seem to be accepting the idea of Václav Havel as a Christ figure for Czechs who feel they have sins to absolve themselves of from the past era. After I wrote an article for BL and Slovo on this theme about a year ago, I received some quiet agreement from many readers and also from friends in the Czech Republic.
It is unfortunate that I have to correct that piece somewhat at this point. The article ended with the open question as to whether Havel was aware of the role he was playing. Rereading some of his writings, it is quite obvious that he is. In fact, I'd now say that this is the role he has been creating for himself.
The key admission comes from his Dalkový výslech, a book-length interview with Karel Hvížďala, conducted in the 1980s. Describing his frustration as a dissident, Havel says that he sometimes just wants to cry out "I'm not your saviour!" but he holds his tongue as he recalls Patočka's words. Patočka once told him that the real test of a man is not how well he plays the role he has invented for himself, but how well he plays the role that destiny assigned to him.
Havel admits that it can be difficult to tell those two roles apart, but it is clear which path he believes he has taken. He has chosen to play the role that he feels "destiny" has given him. Havel holds his tongue rather than proclaim "I'm not your saviour!" because he has the feeling that he is.
Havel shares the messianic vision with his admirers. He accepted the crown of thorns willingly years ago.