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Editor's Note: This essay was a runner-up in a contest of student essays sponsored by the Vaclav Havel Library to mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

Communism: Klement Gottwald. Communism: lining up for fruit. Communism: fear. Communism: censorship. Communism: all of us are equal. Communism: Vladimir Lenin. Communism: Milada Horakova. Communism: Velvet Revolution. Communism: George Orwell’s "1984." Communism: common ownership. Communism: Soviet Union.

Communism: putsch, 1948. Communism: abdication of Edvard Benes. Communism: death of Jan Masaryk. Communism: Charter '77. Communism: Gustav Husak. Communism: Jan Palach.

Communism: unfree speech. Communism: National Security Force. Communism: Radio Free Europe. Communism: Nationalization. Communism: Vaclav Havel. Communism: Karl Marx.

Communism: Execution. Communism: index of banned books. Communism: 262,000 people sentenced in unfair trials. Communism: five-year plans. Communism: Young Pioneers. Communism: Tuzex.

Communism: monitoring the mail. Communism: collaboration. Communism: comrade. Communism: 1953 monetary reform. Communism: Spartakiada. Communism: forced labor camps. Communism: 150,000-200,000 emigres.

Communism: banning religion. Communism: labor duty. Communism: “white” ballots (blank papers cast instead of using a ballot listing only Communist-approved candidates). Communism: expulsion from school. Communism: thousands of victims. Communism: proletarians. Communism: closed borders.

Communism: puppet elections. Communism: despair. Communism: grayness. Communism: hypocrisy. Communism: shortages.

Communism. Communism. Communism. Communism.

Democracy: equality. Democracy: weapons of mass destruction. Democracy: terrorism. Democracy: September 11, 2001 – New York. Democracy: war in Iraq.

Democracy: free elections. Democracy: huge gaps between social classes. Democracy: ethnic and racial equality. Democracy: European Union. Democracy: freedom of speech. Democracy: government of the people.

Democracy: Vaclav Havel. Democracy: economic crisis. Democracy: unrestricted travel. Democracy: uncensored literature. Democracy: freedom.

Democracy: lax morals. Democracy: envy. Democracy: free market. Democracy: rule of law. Democracy: the right to defend oneself in court. Democracy: possibilities. Democracy: freedom of assembly. Democracy: United Nations. Democracy: discussion.

Democracy. Democracy. Democracy. Democracy.

Maybe today’s literature is not of the highest quality, but it can be published.

Maybe today’s media is not as objective as it should be, but it is not censured.

Maybe people today are not saints, but they can be themselves.

Maybe discrimination exists, but respect prevails.

Maybe the food today is not of the highest quality, but you have a choice.

Maybe people don’t act responsibly, but they can be held responsible.

Maybe sects exist, but people choose their beliefs.

Maybe our politicians are not the best, but the people can elect whomever they want.

Maybe the world is dangerous, but people can travel.

Maybe there is no point, but people can protest.

Maybe the world today depends too much on technology, but we can treat cancer.

Maybe today’s universities have lowered their standards, but we can study.

Maybe the news is not always uplifting, but people can get it. Maybe ideas are not always profound, but we can speak them out loud.

Maybe there is no certainty today, but it is worth it.

Veronika Tykacova is a student at The English College in Prague. The views expressed here are the author’s own and not necessarily those of RFE/RL

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