Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Milan Kundera

I don't know why, but this passage from The Unbearable Lightness of Being came into my head over the last couple days.
"Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions."
Kundera then goes on to point out how the Czechs were defiant in the face of the Austrian emperor in 1618 and the ensuing Thirty Years War led to the near total destruction of the Czech nation. He then asks: "Should the Czechs have shown more caution than courage? The answer may seem simple; it is not."

The answer is complicated by 1938, as Kundera continues,
"Three hundred and twenty years later, after the Munich Conference of 1938, the entire world decided to sacrifice the Czech's country to Hitler. Should the Czechs have tried to stand up to a power eight times their size? In contrast to 1618, they opted for caution. Their capitulation led to the Second World War, which in turn led to the forfeit of their nation's freedom"
What was the best way to act?
What is the best way to act?
We don't get any easy answers.