Faith and politics at the dinner table? Needed more than ever

When I visit the United States, many friends want to hear my European "outsider" point of view since they know my interest in religion, politics, history and current issues. Not in a sense that I am some kind of expert or have the best analysis. The main reason is that they like me and I…Read more Faith and politics at the dinner table? Needed more than ever

Communicative memory through three or four generations of family

I love browsing through my grandmother's photo albums, especially, searching for visual glimpses of her life before or during World War II, before and during the Soviet, then Nazi and then again Soviet regime. There are not many photos to find.. First of all, they were a simple farming family who did not have many…Read more Communicative memory through three or four generations of family

The Valentine’s rose from my unlikely friend in San Francisco

I had not thought of Wayne in long time... or the things experienced in San Francisco. But yesterday these special and very significant memories came back so vividly. It happened while listening to a group of young foreigners, mostly American, who are spending time in Rīga. Not only to experience this beautiful city but also…Read more The Valentine’s rose from my unlikely friend in San Francisco

Filmmakers as the spies of our present and future

"I refuse your version of humanity and I will continue to struggle against it", is one of the lines from "The Forgiven", a British movie directed by Roland Joffé which came out last year . The story focuses on Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa which was established as one of the restorative…Read more Filmmakers as the spies of our present and future

Facebook and the conundrum of hate speech

"As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media", said Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. "I can't live with or without you", I considered such title but decided it would be too much. Facebook is a thing, not a person.…Read more Facebook and the conundrum of hate speech

Beware of narrow vocabularies and two-dimensional world

The great "back to school" migration has begun... public transport packed with excited or anxious children, proud or worried parents and other happy or annoyed passengers who observe this happy noise and energy. In fact I am building up my own excitement for continued studies in Latvia University which begins on Monday. In Latvia (and…Read more Beware of narrow vocabularies and two-dimensional world

Time to bridge the chasm of dividing memories in my own nation… Latvia

Does time heal all wounds? Few months ago I was asked by an American how much more time we need in Latvia to bridge our ethnic and historical divides and to have a real sense of 'one nation'. 30 years? 40 years? More? Wait a few decades when the older people will be gone and…Read more Time to bridge the chasm of dividing memories in my own nation… Latvia

I don’t want to be another brick in the wall

Few days ago I was giving a lecture on peace building and reconciliation and our group had a very good discussion about some of the issues and challenges that our societies are facing. It was in a religious context but the principles of good and healthy relationships vs bad and broken ones are the same…Read more I don’t want to be another brick in the wall