Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A quotation from Vaclav Havel on dangers of seeking to create democracy, with haste

I realize with fright that my impatience for the re-establishment of democracy had something almost communist in it; or more generally, something rationalist. I had wanted to make history move ahead in the same way that a child pulls on a plant to make it grow more quickly.

I believe we must learn to wait as we learn to create. We have to patiently sow the seeds, assiduously water the earth where they were sown and give the plants the time that is their own. One cannot fool a plant any more than one can fool history.

The quotation is from a speech given to the Institute of France and quoted in the 13 November 1992 International Herald Tribune. Donella Meadows used in her book Thinking in Systems (2008) to illustrate the importance of taking the presence of delays in complex systems seriously when attempting to play the role of change agent.

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