To sum up: I go to a special doctor, I don't have to drive a car, and my driver need not lose his temper going through Prague at a snail's pace. I needn't cook or shop for myself, and I needn't even dial my own telephone when I want to talk to someone.


And worst of all, everything has its own unassailable logic. It would be laughable and contemptible for me to miss a meeting that served the interests of my country because I had spent my presidential time in a dentist's waiting room, or lining up for meat, or nervously battling the decrepit Prague telephone system, or engaging in the hopeless task of finding a taxi in Prague when I am obviously not from the West and therefore not in possession of dollars.

But where do logic and objective necessity stop and excuses begin? Where does the interest of the country stop and the love of privileges begin? Do we know, and are we at all capable of recognizing, the moment when we cease to be concerned with the interests of the country for whose sake we tolerate these priviliges, and start to be concerned with the advantages themselves, which we excuse by appealing to the interests of the country?

Regardless of how pure his intentions may originally have been, it takes a high degree of self-awareness and critical distance for someone in power -- however well-meaning at the start -- to recognize that moment. I myself wage a constant and rather unsuccessful struggle with the advantages I enjoy, and I would not dare say that I can always identify that moment clearly. You get used to things, and gradually, without being aware of it, you may lose your sense of judgement.

Václav Havel (Czech President)