Quote of the week
“Follow those who seek the truth. Run from those who have found it.”
— Vaclav Havel
Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) was a dissident playwright imprisoned for five years by the Communists, then elected the first president of post-communist Czechoslovakia and subsequently of the Czech Republic. He was a thoughtful practitioner, whose wisdom remains relevant.
He observed: “There are a lot of things politicians don’t know; they speak mostly about things that they learned a short time before from briefing notes.” And that public service “is a kind of dough that one is eternally kneading; one can almost never say ‘the objective has been achieved; I can now cross it off my list and turn to other matters’.”
After his election as president, Havel faced a long list of pardon requests, including, surprisingly, some from judges: “the same judges who sent someone to prison would occasionally request that I grant that person a pardon. They had acted according to the law in sentencing them, but they knew the person didn’t belong in prison.”
Perhaps we need the bureaucratic equivalent of a pardon, a process to set aside the silly repercussions that sometimes flow from the application of rules. Why not establish a new Officer of Parliament, let’s call it The Ombudsman for Pardons for Infractions of Silly Regulations. An officer who would support public servants as they follow those who seek the truth; and run from those who have found it.