Happy 100th Birthday, Vlado!

Born 23 November 1920, a toast to Vlado from the S-G – and me! Thank you to everyone who has contacted me with your fond memories of Vlado, I appreciate them all.

From New York to Gaza, 22 November 1960, birthday wishes from Vlado’s sister Olinka.

Not a birthday telegram, just a “confidential” message from Vlado’s mother to write home more often!

A birthday message and pep talk from big brother Vlado to his sister, sent late September 1960:

“However it may be, there’s no use fighting it or grumbling about what could be – just try to enjoy life as it comes and make every year of it – or every day, or every minute, – a memorable experience and adventure. Carpe diem! -“

Courage to the Optimists

From Helen Keller’s book, “Optimism”; published 1903

“I know what evil is. Once or twice I have wrestled with it, and for a time felt its chilling touch on my life; so I speak with knowledge when I say that evil is of no consequence, except as a sort of mental gymnastic. For the very reason that I have come in contact with it, I am more truly an optimist. I can say with conviction that the struggle which evil necessitates is one of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and every one, and make that Best a part of my life. The world is sown with good; but unless I turn my glad thoughts into practical living and till my own field, I cannot reap a kernel of the good.”

[…]

“The test of all beliefs is their practical effect in life. If it be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, then it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy. One who believes that the pain in the world outweighs the joy, and expresses that unhappy conviction, only adds to the pain. … Life is a fair field, and the right will prosper if we stand by our guns.”

Let pessimism once take hold of the mind, and life is all topsy-turvy, all vanity and vexation of spirit. … If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.”

Step down, Lukashenko! Freedom for Belarus!

“You do not become a “dissident” just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.” – Vaclav Havel; excerpt from “Power of the Powerless”