On November 17th, it will be 25 years since the fall of Communism in the Czech Republic.
The so-called Velvet Revolution started by a group of fearless university students who protested on Narodni Trida (National Blvd) in the center of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in the Soviet Sphere of Influence. The police was called in since public gatherings were illegal and free speech forbidden. They used water cannons, batons (“pendrek” in Czech), pepper spray and violence but the students did not move…. and that’s how history started on Nov 17th in the evening hours. As a new nurse, I was on-call in my new position in ICU/OR on Nov 18th, and I was in Prague by November 19th!
It is almost unreal realizing you have been a part of history, and played an active role in a democratic revolution ridding your home country of 40 years of Communism, oppression and Soviet occupation. Unreal. Also Amazing. Responsible. Powerful. Powerless. Hopeful.
November 17th is and should remain a very important and a historic day in Czech Republic, even though the current democratic transition and the democratization of Czech institutions, political system, education, civic responsibility and accountability, to name a few, has still a lot to learn and implement; but it is our system, our implementation, our problems.
The level of political frustration and apathy reached its highest levels, Transparency International – Česká republika rates us not particularly favorably, politicians are not held to the rule of law, embezzlement is rampant, and the Communists were never punished (against my advice in my town). This lasting hurt and historical injustice, in addition to the ongoing feelings of current injustice, only breeds apathy, anger, unwillingness to get involved, unhappiness, unstable government, wide shifts in national and international policies, and a political system of 50+ parties (13 political parties just in my home town of 15K people).
Czech Democracy has a lot to learn and a lot to accomplish. “They” say it takes 40 years to change a political system and its society. Let’s hope so, Czech Republic has only another 15 years to go. The problem is, however, who will be the power or the entity that the people wait for to usher and implement these lasting changes, changes that should be done within those 40 years ? Let’s hope we will figure out fast that is us, and only us. If we want democracy, we must be willing to fight for it. The old political wisdom says: People have governments they deserve…
It is up to us to decide to either throw in the towel and say let the socialists and communist fully win in the next election and give them back full power, let’s close the borders, forbid free speech, make Russian language mandatory, Western ‘anything’ illegal again and bread will be cheap, OR let’s decide to stand up, speak out, start taking responsibility for our destiny and let’s start demanding some accountability! Czech Republic is worthy of such effort, we are worthy of such effort. Let’s prove the old political adage ‘People have governments they deserve’ right, because we do deserve better.
Democracy ain’t easy but I do love it all-the-same…