Oregon diary: The art of sanctuary

I will admit the sign in the shop window first surprised me. I was entering a store for used books, looking at the posters and local advertisements and there it was. You could not miss it! “WE WELCOME… ALL RACES… ALL RELIGIONS… ALL COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN… ALL SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS… ALL GENDERS… WE STAND WITH YOU… YOU ARE SAFE HERE”

Safe? In the store? In the city of Salem? In Oregon? Safe from what?

Then I remembered that there are U.S. cities and counties which declared themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. What I did not realize that there are also five sanctuary states with laws that limit how local police can cooperate with federal immigration agents! Oregon is one of them and actually the first state to pass such a law. The others are California, New Mexico, Colorado and Illinois.

According to Salem Weekly News, “This state law, passed in 1987, did not begin life as a specific sanctuary law for undocumented immigrants. Some say it was in response to racial profiling of U.S. citizens born in other countries, while others believe it was a way for local police to get out of footing the bill for enforcing Federal Immigration laws. Whatever the original intent, this law is a tug-of-war issue in the controversies over the rapidly shifting U.S. Immigration and Customs policies.”

Immigration is such a hot and divisive issue. Even while writing, I know that it is very complicated and certainly not “either/or”. We see how many government elections and referendums around the world are wrapped around this question. Who belongs and who does not. Who is welcome and who is not. Who is local and who is immigrant (no matter how many generations later). Who is “us” and who is “them”. Who is “good” immigrant and who is “bad” immigrant. Which religion is “acceptable” and which one is “threatening”. Which country’s citizens we want and which ones we don’t want.

I love America and certainly feel very welcome and accepted here on my visits. But I do know that not everything in the story of this “country of immigrants” is as it seems or as told by the “official” version. For example, friends in Minnesota can tell me about the days when there were signs “Irish are not welcome”. And the Protestants in certain communities did not want to welcome the Catholics and vice versa.

Recently I heard a comment from an American friend who was very reflective, “Yes, we are a country of immigrants. But we, the European descendants, do not think of ourselves as the immigrants in America. The ones we call ‘immigrants’ are the non-Europeans – Asians, Africans, Hispanics… everyone who does not look like us.”

When I saw the sign in Oregon, it reminded me why I like this Pacific Northwest state so much. It is not perfect by no means but I like the strong spirit, broad mindedness and the attitude of being pro-active. Oregonians have strong opinions, choose to act and obviously this shop was making a loud and clear statement.

How fitting for a store that is selling books and stories of our interconnected and shared human existence and experience!

 

Davos aims at our shared future but what about shared good

If you noticed I have been silent for a short while, I stopped posting on ‘peaceroads’ in January because of various other commitments, mainly my university studies. And after all the deadlines and sleepless nights, I enjoyed one week in a quiet, pretty and posh English town – Harpenden. Everything there is so green compared to the winter scenery in Latvia and the life seems ‘greener’ on that side, too.

While I enjoyed walks in the English countryside, looked for good deals in charity shops and wondered where to get the best fish and chips, the news on my computer screen showed another idyllic picture  from Davos, a small sleepy town in the Swiss Alps, and the headlines talked about the rich and powerful gathering for the annual World Economic Forum.

For many people the name “Davos” is probably like the word “Disneyland” is for most children. To be rewarded and privileged to go there and to mingle with the powerful, rich and famous, to stay in expensive hotels, eat gourmet food, make deals, build networks, meet the right person at the right time for your idea, business or even country and feel like you are in the center of the ‘things to be’. No doubt a thrilling experience if you believe in it.

Don’t misunderstand. I have no doubt that many good and socially responsible initiatives have their beginning  in such meetings, many important decisions are made and the original vision of this gathering is still being fulfilled to some extent. Many of the people whom I turn to for their expertise and opinion attend this forum of leaders and they don’t see it as a waste of time. Still, I struggle to take this year’s theme “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” without a dose of heavy skepticism.

It is not the words I disagree with . “Creating” is what we all do. Even if we are just sitting on our couch and doing ‘nothing’, we are affecting our lives, others and our world in some way or another. “Shared” is a fact which nobody in his right mind denies. The world is so interconnected. Just ask Europeans how the war in Syria affected them. Or the people who suffer through extreme weather patterns because of climate change.

“Future” is already here. “Fractured” is the feeling and view that many have and are generally afraid of. “World” is every human being and in fact everything else that exists. There is no escaping this framework, unless you can ‘pretend’. And there are those realists who, I believe, pretend the ‘sharing’ because these ‘fractures’ affect them the least.

The statistics of growing inequality are getting worse and worse. The American facts show that the richest 1% of families controlled a record-high 38.6% of the country’s wealth in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve, and this gap keeps growing. The UK experts state that rising inequality has seen a dramatic increase in the share of income going to the top, a decline in the share of those at the bottom and, more recently, a stagnation of incomes among those in the middle. You can go country by country on every continent. (Yes, Norway and few others are the exception!)

This is a global trend and poses one of the greatest threats to our future if we want it to be peaceful and stable and good life for everyone. I don’t have to be an expert in history or politics or economics to see that this is very dangerous in many ways. Not least if we care about democracy because the concentration of wealth and power is happening faster than we can blink.

The main drivers of this growing ‘fracture’ in our societies are identified as technology, political systems and institutions, family, childhood, globalisation. This is also where most of the solutions lie but somehow I get the feeling that these urgent and difficult changes will not come from ‘top down’. Our long human experience shows us that people will rarely share power and access to wealth and goods if they don’t have to. But we also have more than enough bad experiences with ‘bottom up’  pushing back in the form of violent revolutions.

Since this is an election year in Latvia, I will end with small but crucial practical step. Voting matters and informed choices matter! We have the same fractures in Latvia and we have to guard and continue improving our political system and institutions. Practice of democracy for sure decreases inequality.

We should not aim at simply “shared future”. We should aim at sharing good future.

Zooming in and out this world and life of ours

Bangkok – Moscow – Riga… my flight itinerary the other day. I have been on this route many times before, bridging Southeast Asia and Northern Europe in less than 12 hours. Once I mentioned to a friend that I feel my one foot in Latvia and the other in Thailand. My friend laughed: “That is quite the leg split. How do you manage?”

On the long-haul flights I face a dilemma. Do I take the aisle seat for convenience of getting in and out without disturbing others?  Or do I take the window seat and catch the glimpses of the world bellow? Flying higher than even the migratory birds fly, for most of us this is high as it gets.

On this last flight I was lost in deep thoughts on what I had just experienced in Thailand and what was waiting for me back in Europe. It feels like the whole world is in some strange limbo and the scenes are changing and the events are happening much faster than our brains can process. (I guess this is why some people look to artificial intelligence with so many hopes and dreams. I am not one of them, though.)

And then I discovered a feature on our in-flight entertainment that kept me occupied and enchanted. When looking at the flight map and the plane location, it offered different views and angles. You could click on “right wing” and get the names of cities and places looking east. Or click on the view “left wing” and explore the west. There was the option of “cockpit view” or the view from underneath the plane. If the sky was clear, you could hope to get some actual views of landscape.

But my favorite thing was the zoom “in” and “out” option. At first everything was up close. Here is the plane and here is the name of some place I have never heard of. My first question is – where are we? What country is this? I would start to zoom out to get the big picture. “I see. Now we are flying over India and then we will cross into Pakistan airspace and then Afghanistan. Wow! And then other countries in Central Asia. And then the big country of Russia and finally my little country of Latvia. I love it.”

You can say that I am a big picture girl. Whether it’s the maps or the news.  I always read about the global affairs before the domestic ones. I always think of how something in Myanmar will impact the neighbors, how the regime in North Korea does not care about its own people and even less about the rest of us,  how the whole world is following every word that US president Donald Trump says and watching every move he makes (even my elderly Thai neighbors in Chiang Mai, Thailand asked me what I think about Donald Trump.. and we have never discussed politics before… ever)

There is no going back. Our world is so interconnected and when any part of the world hurts, it hurts the others. When any part is doing well and experiencing peace and well being, it helps the others. Even if by giving hope and dreams. We can speak “isolationism” and act like we are going to “circle the wagons” and only take care of “our own people” and put “our country first” but this is not the world we live in. We cannot create some walled-in enclaves of “peace and prosperity” as the way into the future. I don’t believe that this kind of picture of the world is good or desirable or possible.

What kind of picture of the world is desirable? Well, that is the big question and I certainly don’t have the full answer. Again, looking from the bird’s view, the challenges are huge – climate change will continue (human made or natural, it is happening), social inequality continues to widen (within countries  and among countries) and global migration will continue (and lots of it is connected to the first two ). You cannot live in your corner of the world and think that somehow these global challenges will not effect you.

But the reverse is true also and that is why I like to zoom in. Each country is cities, towns, villages and homesteads. Each place is people and families. I fly over the mega cities of India and think of all the millions of people down there and their daily lives and their hopes and their prayers. So many have to work very hard just to survive and cannot dream of sitting in those airplanes flying high above their heads.

I was looking at the landscape of Afghanistan and could see the roads weaving through the desert. I know people who have been there – soldiers, nurses, missionaries, volunteers, journalists. They have a real on the ground experience of this nation. The good and the not so good, the beautiful and not so beautiful, the daily lives of people. Their joys and their fears and their questions and their goals.

From my high ‘moral’ place in the sky, I cannot change anything on the ground. I start by zooming in and thinking about the actual dear people down there. I start by living out my vision wherever I land. I zoom in to be actually ‘present’ and ‘among’.

My point is – we need both. We need to lift our eyes to see that there is much more happening than what we realize and we need to lower our eyes to see the people right in front of us.

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Waiting to board my flight in Bangkok

Latvian:

Bangkoka – Maskava – Rīga… tāds bija mans maršruts. Esmu lidojusi šo ceļu vairākas reizes, savienojot Dienvidaustrumāziju un Ziemeļeiropu kādās 12 stundās. Reiz es stāstīju vienam draugam, ka esmu ar vienu kāju Latvijā un ar otru Taizemē. Viņš smējās: “Tad gan tev riktīgs špagats. Kā tu noturi līdzsvaru?”

Garajos pārlidojumos grūti izvēlēties. Vai sēdēt pie ejas, lai vieglāk tieku ārā no krēsla, netraucējot pārējiem? Vai arī sēdēt pie loga, lai baudītu dabas skatus, ja gadījumā nav mākoņu? Lidojot augstumā, kur tikai retais gājputns iemaldās.

Šajā nesenajā lidojumā biju iegrimusi pārdomās par tikko piedzīvoto Taizemē un par to, kas mani sagaida Latvijā. Ir sajūta, ka visā pasaulē sašūpojusies morālā un skaidrā saprāta ass. Notikumi un visādi pavērsieni uzņēmuši tik strauju gaitu, ka smadzenes netiek līdzi ( varu saprast, kāpēc daži tik ļoti ilgojas pēc mākslīgā intelekta, bet es par to nesapņoju).

Un tad es atklāju vienu ļoti jauku un interesantu izklaidi uz mazā TV ekrāna, kas ir katram pasažierim. Parasti var sekot līdzi lidojuma statusam un lidmašīnas atrašanās vietai, bet tagad mūsdienu tehnoloģijas pievieno vēl visādas iespējas. Piemēram, skats no “labā spārna”, kas norāda uz vietu nosaukumiem uz austrumiem. Vai arī skats no “kreisā spārna”, kas šoreiz bija skats uz rietumiem. Vēl bija skats no “pilota kabīnes” un skats “zem lidmašīnas”. Ja debesis bija skaidras, tad tiešām jūties kā putns.

Bet vislabāk man patika tāda opcija, kā “pietuvināt” vai “attālināt”. No sākuma karte rādīja visu tuvumā. Te ir lidmašīna, un te ir man nepazīstamas vietas nosaukums, kurai šobrīd lidojam pāri. Mana pirmā domā – kur mēs esam? Virs kuras valsts? Es sāku ‘attālināt’, lai redzētu kopbildi. “Skaidrs! Tagad lidojam pāri Indijas ziemeļiem un tad būsim Pakistānas gaisa telpā. Sekos Afganistāna un citas Centrālāzijas valstis. Cik interesanti! Tad būs lielā Krievija un pēc tam mazā Latvija. Kā man patīk ceļot!”

Man patīk lielā kopbilde un plašā perspektīva. Gan pasaules kartēs, gan pasaules ziņās. Es vienmēr lasu par notikumiem ārzemēs pirms vietējām ziņām. Es pārdomāju, kā attīstība Mjanmā ietekmēs kaimiņvalstis; kā Ziemeļkorejas režīms nicina savus tautiešus un vēl vairāk mūs pārejos; kā visa pasaule tagad seko katram ASV prezidenta Donalda Trampa vārdam un katram viņa lēmumam. Pat mani kaimiņi Taizemē, veci taizemieši, jautāja, ko es domājot par Trampu. Un viņi nekad nav runājuši ar mani par ārvalstu politiku. Nekad.

Laiku un pasauli nevar pagriezt atpakaļ. Mūsu dzīves ir tik cieši saistītas. Kad vienā pasaules malā iet grūti un ir karš vai bads vai citas nelaimes, pārējā pasaule arī cieš. Kad citā pasaules malā iet labi un mierīgi, pārējie arī ir ieguvēji. Kaut vai tādēļ, ka nezaudē cerību un savus sapņus. Mēs varam ‘izolēties’ un rupēties tikai par ‘savējiem’ un likt savu valsti ‘pirmajā vietā’, bet tāda pasaule vairs nepastāv. Mēs nevaram uzcelt sienas apkārt kaut kādām ‘miera un bagātības’ oāzēm, kur varēsim domāt un rupēties tikai par savu nākotni. Tāda pasaule nav ne vēlama, ne iespējama.

Kāda pasaule ir vēlama un iespējama? Tas ir tas lielais jautājums, un nevienam nav gatavas atbildes. Man ir šādas tādas domas, kas turpina veidoties. Tāpēc tik svarīgs ir tāds putna lidojums un skats no augšienes. Dažas problēmas tiešām ir milzīgas un globālas. Klimata pārmaiņas notiek un turpināsies (gan dabas, gan cilvēku izraisītās). Sociālās nevienlīdzības plaisa un netaisnīgums arī nemazinās, bet gan pieaug (gan valstu iekšienē, gan starp valstīm) un globālā migrācija un cilvēku kustība turpināsies (turklāt cieši saistīta ar pirmajām divām tendencēm). Tā kā skaidrs, ka nekāda izolēšanās nav atbilde un risinājums.

Taču tikpat svarīgi ir nolaisties uz zemes. Tāpēc man patika opcija “pietuvināt”. Katra valsts ir pilsētas, ciemati un mājas. Katra vieta ir cilvēki, indivīdi un ģimenes. Lidojam pāri Indijas daudzmiljonu pilsētām, un es domāju par cilvēkiem tur lejā. Domāju par viņu smago darbu, par viņu ikdienas dzīvi, par sapņiem, ilgām un lūgšanām. Tik daudzi var tikai noskatīties uz lidmašīnām sev virs galvas.

Varēju redzēt Afganistānas tuksnesi un ceļus, kuri vijās kā čūskas. Pazīstu cilvēkus, kuri tur ir bijuši – karavīri, medmāsas, ārsti, brīvprātīgie, misionāri, žurnālisti. Viņi ir, kaut arī nepilnīgi, guvuši zināmu pieredzi šajā zemē. Gan labo, gan slikto; gan skaisto, gan ne tik skaisto. Viņi var labāk iedziļināties afgāņu ikdienas dzīvē. Jo ir redzējuši cilvēku priekus un bēdas, bailes un cerības.

No sava augstā putna lidojuma es nevaru ietekmēt to, kas notiek uz zemes. Tāpēc vispirms ‘pietuvinu’ vietu nosaukumus un domāju par konkrētiem cilvēkiem. Pēc tam es lieku lietā savas atziņas un uzskatus dzīvē tur, kur nolaižos. Es pievelku ‘vistuvāk’ un cenšos būt ‘klāt’ un ‘blakus’.

Mums ir nepieciešamas abas perspektīvas. Mums ir jāpaceļ savas acis uz augšu, lai redzētu, kas notiek apkārt pasaulē, un mums ir jānolaiž savas acis, lai redzētu cilvēkus, kuri dotajā brīdī ir blakus.

 

How the whole world “elects” the US president

From my little corner of our planet in Latvia, it seems like the whole world just “voted” for who should become the next president of the United States. My friends in many countries have countless postings on Facebook. Every news channel, talk show and every conversation at one point or another brings up this topic. At the moment Donald Trump is the most talked about person in the world. He is in our heads.

I went to my theology class and guess what??? We discussed the election results. Many of my friends in  Latvia feel sad and shocked, others are amused and say “it will be interesting” and others are happy because they think the Americans chose wisely. The same mixed emotions and opinions as in the USA (overwhelming majority of Latvian and, I will say, European young people are upset, though)

This is something quite hard to explain to some of my American friends who have not traveled outside the US. The whole world watches what happens in this most powerful country and the whole world cares. Literally.

Personally I think it is not normal that the choice of 120 million (people who just voted) which is less than 2% of the world’s population, has such an overwhelming impact on the rest. I am not an American citizen, my husband is and I see and feel this reality every election year. But I have never seen such a global interest and concern and anxiety as this time. So many hopes and fears and expectations invested in one person and one country.

I don’t know how it makes my American friends feel. This is such a huge responsibility and, like I said, not just for domestic affairs but for the whole global community. For better or for worse, this is how it is and will be for some time.

We live in such a fast paced world. Things are changing and so are we. The results of many recent elections and referendums, including Brexit, show that the young people think more globally and are not as afraid of these changes. I may be proven wrong but I think they feel more connected to the rest of the world. Whether it is through the internet and global social media or through traveling around the world in a more engaging way. If I think of all the volunteers from NGO’s, religious organizations and aid groups and how young they are, I can see why they care so deeply about the global challenges – environment, human trafficking, inequality or better term “injustice”, marginalized people groups and so on.

One of my Latvian friends said: “I think the whole Erasmus program for student exchange in Europe is meant for stopping wars and teaching people how to live as good neighbors with each other”. That is why so many young people in the UK voted to stay in the European Union. When you actually become friends with people from other nations, they are not just another news story. Estonia, Spain, Russia or Iraq or Nigeria or Thailand becomes personal. Their challenges become something you care about and  you don’t want to withdraw from them.

There are great challenges around the world right now. No need to list them. For example, for people in the Baltics every word the US president says about NATO is of utmost importance. So, we all know what a difficult job the next president of the United States has and how much is at stake domestically and globally. No doubt we need to pray for him and his team of advisors because without wise council and wise decisions this is mission impossible. Of course, the US has an amazing democratic system where all the power is not in the hands of one person or his clique (versus to the current regime in Russia) and it is for a good reason.

Still, these elections were run in a way that made it look like all the hope is in one person who will fix everything. This is trust misplaced.

But there is something else about these elections and other deeply polarizing campaigns which grieves me immensely. It is the irresponsibility and ignorance of politicians and leaders and media and even the church (yes, we need to point the finger at ourselves) to drive the wedges between “Us” and “Them”, add “fuel to the fire”, manipulate, tell half-truths or even lies and then the next day tell people “Now we need to unite and respect each other”

Yes, we need to unite. Yes, we need to respect the people who think differently or have a different vision for our nation. Yes, we need to listen. Yes, we need to heal our divisions and bridge the gap. Yes, we need to support our government and help them to succeed.

But what about the horrible words and attitudes and actions that were modeled for so many months that hurt so many people and drove the wedges even deeper? “Out of the fullness of heart the mouth speaks”. Who will take responsibility for this? Who will be humble enough to say “I am sorry for being a part of the problem”? Who will say that this is not right and this is not American?

So, the whole world will continue watching and discussing and learning from the US…

us-elections-2016

(Both photos taken from the internet)

Latvian:

Pat mūsu mazajā zemeslodes stūrītī Latvijā rodas sajūta, ka visa pasaule “piedalījās” ASV prezidenta vēlēšanās. Vērojot draugu ierakstus Feisbukā dažādās pasaules malās, šobrīd nav karstākas tēmas. Katrā ziņu kanālā, aktuālo tēmu raidījumā, arī lielākajā daļā ikdienas sarunu tiek pieminēts Donalds Tramps. Lūgts vai nelūgts – viņš ir ienācis visos prātos, un tik ātri nekur neaizies.

Šobrīd studēju teoloģiju, un ko mēs šonedēļ pārrunājām? Protams, ka ASV jaunievēlēto prezidentu. Daudzi Latvijā ir galīgi satriekti, daži pat tuvu asarām; citi groza galvu un saka, ka “būs interesanti, kas tur tagad Amerikā notiks”, bet ir arī daudzi, kas priecājas gan par ASV demokrātijas izturību, gan par vēlētāju izvēli. Vieniem tādas pašas kardināli pretējas domas un sajūtas, citiem neitrāli viedokļi. Gluži kā šobrīd ASV (man gan liekas, ka vairākums jauniešu Latvijā un Eiropā uztver Donalda Trampa ievēlēšanu ļoti negatīvi, bet par to vēlāk).

Man ir ļoti grūti izskaidrot to saviem amerikāņu draugiem, kuri nav daudz ceļojuši ārpus savas valsts robežām. Visa pasaule skatās, kas notiek šajā visspēcīgākajā valstī, un lielākajai daļai ir viedoklis par to, kam tur vajadzētu notikt. Pasaulei nav vienaldzīga ASV politika. Burtiskā nozīmē.

Personīgi man tas neliekas normāli. 120 miljoni (apmēram tik daudz cilvēku tikko nobalsoja) ir mazāk kā 2% no visas pasaules iedzīvotājiem, bet viņu izvēle tik spēcīgi ietekmē visus pārējos. Neesmu ASV pilsone, bet mans vīrs ir, un katrā vēlēšanu kampaņā es redzu un jūtu šo globālo realitāti. Bet neatceros neko līdzīgu šim gadam. Tik milzīgu globālo interesi un uztraukumu piedzīvoju pirmo reizi. Tik daudzas cerības, bailes un gaidas liktas uz vienu cilvēku un vienu valsti.

Nezinu, kā amerikānim par to visu justies. Tā ir ārkārtīga atbildība, ne tikai attiecībā uz ASV iekšzemes lietām, bet uz ārpolitiku un attiecībām ar pārējiem. Gribam vai negribam, tā tas ir, un arī tuvākajā laikā nemainīsies.

Mēs dzīvojam pasaulē, kur viss notiek ātrāk un ātrāk. Lietas mainās, un mēs paši arī. Pēdējā laika vēlēšanu un referendumu, piemēram, Brexit rezultāti atklāj, ka jaunatne domā daudz globālāk, un tik ļoti nebaidās no šīm straujajām izmaiņām. Varbūt kāds pierādīs pretējo, bet man liekas, ka jaunieši daudz labāk izjūt šo globālo saiti. Varbūt dēļ interneta, vai sociālajiem tīkliem, vai ceļošanas apkārt pasaulei daudz iesaistošākā veidā. Domājot par visiem sev pazīstamajiem brīvprātīgajiem gan starptaustiskās nevalstiskās, gan starpkonfesionālās reliģiskās organizācijās, kur lielākā daļa ir gados jauni cilvēki, es saprotu, kāpēc viņi jūtas daudz tuvāk un daudz ciešāk sasaistīti ar visu pasauli. Viņiem rūp globālās problēmas, piemēram, vides aizsardzība jeb cīņa ar cilvēktirdzniecību un mūsdienu verdzību.

Pirms dažiem gadiem viena mana paziņa teica: “Man liekas, ka visa Erasmus studentu apmaiņa ir domāta tam, lai Eiropā nebūtu karu un lai mēs labāk iepazītos un tuvinātos viens otram.” Arī Brexit referendumā lielākā daļa jauniešu nobalsoja par palikšanu Eiropas Savienībā. Viņi jūtas daudz piederīgāki pārējam Eiropas kontinentam. Kad tev ir draugi citās valstīs, tie vairs nav tikai ziņu virsraksti. Tu vairs neesi vienaldzīgs.

Pat vienaldzīgajam skaidrs, ka šobrīd globālo izaicinājumu ir daudz. Kaut vai no Baltijas valstu perspektīvas raugoties, NATO vienotība un rīcībspēja ir akūti svarīgas. Tā kā mēs varam iedomāties, cik grūts darbs gaida nākamo ASV prezidentu, un cik nozīmīgi būs viņa lēmumi gan iekšzemē, gan ārlietās. Protams, ka vajag aizlūgt par viņu un par viņa padomdevēju komandu, jo bez gudra padoma un gudriem lēmumiem tā būs neiespējamā misija. Un vēl var iedrošināties no tā, ka ASV ir tik apbrīnojami attīstīta un norūdīta demokrātiska sistēma, kur visa vara nav viena cilvēka vai vienas kliķes rokās (atšķirībā no patreizējā režīma Krievijā).

Taču šīs vēlēšanas tika pagrieztas tā, it kā visas cerības jāliek uz vienu cilvēku, kurš visu salabos un izglābs. Tāda cerība liks vilties.

Bet pāri visam ir kaut kas tikko notikušajās vēlēšanās un sabiedrību pamatīgi sašķēlušajā kampaņā, kas man liek tiešām dziļi sērot. Tā ir ASV politiķu, ievērojamu personu, masu mediju un arī baznīcu (jā, mums jārāda pirksts arī uz sevi) bezatbildība, tuvredzība un liekulība, veicinot šo šķelšanos starp “mums” un “citiem”, piemetot “malku ugunij”, manipulējot, stāstot puspatiesības vai pat melus, lai nākamajā dienā pēc vēlēšanām teiktu, ka “tagad visiem jābūt vienotiem un jāciena vienam otru”.

Jā, cilvēkiem un nācijai ir jāvienojas. Jā, ir jāciena citādi domājošie un arī tie, kuri vēlas citādu virzienu valsts politikai. Jā, ir nepieciešams ieklausīties pretējos viedokļos. Jā, ir jādziedina sāpinājumi un jābūvē attiecību tilti. Jā, ir jāatbalsta un jālūdz par valsts vadītāju.

Bet ko darīt ar visiem tiem briesmīgajiem vārdiem, kas tika pateikti par imigrantiem, citu rasu un reliģiju pārstāvjiem, sievietēm, cilvēkiem ar kustību traucējumiem? Ko darīt ar to briesmīgo un uzputīgo uzvedību un attieksmi, kas tika demonstrēta vairāk kā gada garumā? Ko darīt ar to slikto piemēru, kas tika rādīts visiem, ieskaitot bērnus un jauniešus, kuriem jāmācās vērtības (skat, tikumība)? Kurš uzņemsies atbildību par to visu? Kurš būs tik pazemīgs, lai iesāktu ar atvainošanos un pateiktu, ka “man patiešām žēl, ka es biju daļa no šī milzīgās problēmas”? Kurš no uzvarētājiem pateiks, ka tās nav amerikāņu vērtības?

Un tikmēr pasaule turpinās skatīties, pārrunāt un mācīties no ASV…

Should They Stay or Should They Go now?

I was watching two guys, very good friends to each other, having an intense argument about the British referendum on whether to Remain in the EU or Leave. Neither one of them was born British and only one of them lives and works in the UK. Still, they both care deeply about the current affairs in Europe and the world. Also, both of them are devoted Christians but obviously have different opinions when discussing politics, economics, nations and such.

Any other time they would probably agree more than disagree but this is not any other time. The British vote is a very big deal. Will the EU survive if the UK leaves? I don’t know but I think it will. (Some say it will be even better.) Still, “Leave” vote would definitely have a very large impact on Europe. It already has and the Brits have not even voted yet. Am I worried? Better question is – do I care? Yes, I do!

Honestly, I have no idea what the outcome of the British vote will be. The polls show that it is too close to call. Of course, I meet people who predict it one way or another but usually they have a very strong opinion on what is “actually” going on. They can explain to me why “the Brits will vote to stay” and why “all this is just a show” and “much ado about nothing”. Or the opposite and why “the Brits are tired of pulling too much of European weight”. Others are simply saying that they don’t care anymore and “if the Brits feel so non-European and special and different, they should just leave”.

Why should I even think about this? Like I said, I do care and I believe that this decision will affect me as a citizen of European Union. I am not British and completely agree with a friend of mine who wrote on his FB page “I will say one thing about Brexit vote: if you are half as intelligent as you think you are – beware of people giving simple answers to complicated questions”

The decision has so many facets because the EU and the world is deeply integrated in many ways. Good and bad (I could write tons of thoughts about all the bad ‘integration’ I see). One of the big questions in this whole debate is this – do we improve, even correct, something we worked so hard to build or do we just blow it up?

I feel like there are lots of similarities between the current election year in the USA and the current debate in the UK. There is such a distrust of political and business elites and smart people are much better than me at explaining the reasons for this distrust and dislike. Also, it seems like so many people look at the vote and their ‘two’ choices from a negative  – which one is the lesser evil?

Like the catchy line by The Clash “Should I stay or should I go now… If I go there will be trouble… And if I stay it will be double”

The way I see it, it does not make for a good decision when we are choosing not between “good” or “better” but between “bad” or “worse”.

This may put me in the ‘over-simplified’ category but I want to say to my British friends – Please, stay! (as for my list of reasons, ask and I will tell you) Yes, the EU house is on fire (meaning there are many serious problems) but let’s cool it. Not blow it up!

P.S. Here are links to two articles written by people much smarter than me. They are both British academics and professionals, Michael Schluter and Julian Chapman, who have similar but also opposing views on the whole debate. They write from their Christian point of view and respectfully disagree with each other.

London 019

London calling…

Latvian:

Skatījos, kā divi labi draugi strīdās. Par to, vai britiem palikt vai nepalikt Eiropas Savienībā. Neviens no viņiem nav brits, lai gan viens dzīvo un strādā Londonā. Abiem diviem ļoti rūp, kas notiek Eiropā un pasaulē. Abi divi ir kristieši, bet ar dažādiem uzskatiem politikā, ekonomikā, nācijas nozīmē, utt.

Par citām tēmām viņiem drošvien ir daudz vairāk kopīgu uzskatu nekā atšķirīgo. Bet šī nav vienkārša tēma. Vai ES izdzīvos, ja Apvienotā Karaliste izstāsies? Nezinu, bet domāju, ka izdzīvos (daži pat saka, ka tā būs labāk). Tomēr izstāšanās atstātu milzīgu iespaidu uz Eiropu. Šis referendums jau ir daudz ko ietekmējis, un briti vēl pat nav nobalsojuši. Vai es uztraucos? Labāk būtu pajautāt, vai man tas rūp? Jā, un pat ļoti!

Ja godīgi, man nav ne jausmas, kā briti nobalsos. Aptaujas liecina par lielu sašķeltību, un eksperti izvairās kaut ko prognozēt. Protams, es satieku cilvēkus, kuri jau “zin” iznākumu, jo viņiem ir “skaidrs”, ap ko lieta grozās. Viņi man paskaidro, ka briti obligāti nobalsos par palikšanu, jo “viss šis referendums ir tikai politiska izrāde”, un “liela brēka maza vilna”. Otra puse atkal apgalvo, ka briti obligāti izstāsies, jo “viņiem ir apnicis dot tik naudu ES, bet neko nesaņemt pretī”. Savukārt citiem jau ir vienalga. Ja tie briti jūtas tik ļoti īpaši un izredzēti un atšķirīgi no pārējās Eiropas, tad lai iet savu ceļu.

Kāpēc man vispār par to lauzīt galvu? Kā Eiropas Savienības pilsonei man ir svarīgs šis gaidāmais lēmums, kaut arī neesmu Apvienotās Karalistes vēlētāja. Uzreiz gan piebildīšu, ka piekrītu vienam draugam, kurš savā Facebook profilā raksta “Es teikšu vienu lietu par gaidāmo Brexit referendumu: ja jūs esat uz pusi tik gudri, kā domājat – uzmanāties no cilvēkiem, kuri dod vienkāršas atbildes uz sarežģītiem jautājumiem”.

Lēmumam ir daudz šķautnes, jo Eiropas Savienība un vispār visa pasaule ir cieši saistītas visādā ziņā. Gan labā, gan sliktā (par sliktajām saistībām es varētu pierakstīt palagus). Viens no lielajiem jautājumiem šajā visā diskusijā ir tāds – vai uzlabot, pat izlabot, kaut ko, ko tik grūti un smagi esam cēluši, vai labāk to visu uzspridzināt?

Es redzu daudzas līdzības starp patreizējo ASV prezidenta vēlēšanu kampaņu un Brexit referendumu. Tik liela neuzticēšanās vadošajai elitei – politiķiem, ierēdņiem un ekonomikas vadītājiem. Gudrākie ir devuši labus skaidrojumus, kāpēc tik slikts noskaņojums, un kāpēc tāda neuzticēšanās, pat nepatika un naids. Vēl man liekas, ka abās valstīs daudzi skatās uz dotajām ‘divām’ izvēlēm no negatīvās puses – kas būs mazākais ļaunums no diviem?

Kā labi zināmajā britu pankroka grupas “The Clash” dziesmā. “Vai man palikt, vai man iet?… Ja iešu prom, būs slikti… Ja palikšu, vēl sliktāk”

Manuprāt, tādā veidā nevar pieņemt labus lēmumus. Ja skatāmies nevis uz labu vai vēl labāku izvēli, bet uz sliktu vai vēl sliktāku.

Drošvien tas būs pārāk ‘vienkāršoti’, bet es gribu teikt saviem britu draugiem – lūdzu, palieciet Eiropas Savienībā! (Ja jums interesē mani iemesli, jautājiet, un es paskaidrošu.) Jā, ES māja ir šur tur aizdegusies, bet es aicinu tās liesmas kopīgiem spēkiem dzēst. Nevis to māju vienkārši uzspridzināt!

P.S. Tiem, kas lasa angļu val., pievienoju divas saites uz interesantiem rakstiem, kurus rakstījuši cilvēki daudz gudrāki par mani. Abi autori, Maikls Šļūters un Džūliāns Čepmens, ir britu akadēmiķi un profesionāļi, kuru viedokļi gan sakrīt, gan stipri dalās. Viņi raksta no savas kristīgās izpratnes pozīcijām, un oponē viens otram ar cieņu.

The perks of being curious

Sitting between two total strangers, I am always grateful for being a small person. Especially on a budget airline with very small seats.

This time on my right was an American middle aged guy who was dressed for a business trip and on my left was a young Asian guy who was obviously a Buddhist monk. We were flying from Boston to Minneapolis and I was determined to get some sleep. It had been a very long day and my third flight already. While getting settled in our seats, I was the only one who was not on the phone checking messages and Facebook and I took it as a ‘good sign’ that nobody is interested in talking.

I glanced at the young monk with his iPhone and thought about the changing times and changing paradigms.  Talk about breaking stereotypes…

Suddenly the American man asked me some polite questions. Meanwhile I was curious about the monk and finally asked him about his red robe. It was a different colour then the ones in Thailand and he explained the Mahayana school which is mostly practiced by Tibetan Buddhists. He was from Taiwan, living in India and traveling to Minnesota to do some translation work.

So, here we were ‘united nations’ from Latvia, Taiwan and USA. Crammed together in a very small space, sharing all the conveniences and inconveniences of inexpensive air travel. The American became very thoughtful and then asked us both, “What do people around the world think about America now?”

Such a broad and vague question but I knew what he wanted to know. He did not want to know what people think about American clothes, hairstyles, history, holidays, work habits or movies. Between the lines, he wanted to know what ‘outsiders’ think about American foreign policies. He looked concerned and also puzzled.

Actually my answer was as vague and general as his question because during the conversation I realized that he was not a good listener. He would jump from question to question and then sigh and become uninterested. The Taiwanese monk, on the other hand, gave a very enthusiastic answer, explaining the geopolitical issues and how the US and Japan are the best and closest allies for Taiwan.

Also, the monk started talking about the values of respect and honor and how his Buddhist religious garments were made by a Muslim tailor. He said that there are good and bad people everywhere but there is much more good in the world than the bad. I could not have said it any better.

I noticed that the American passenger’s curiosity had limits. He admitted he had not traveled outside the US and had never been to Europe or Asia. He also did not seem interested in going even though he had the means.

So, here is an observation. I think that one of the big problems is that we think of international relations as “foreign” and “policies”. It is ‘us’ dealing with ‘them’ and ‘our politics’ versus ‘their politics’. “Foreign” often sounds strange and distant. And it will stay foreign and distant to this man unless he is willing to be much more curious about the world and actually go to other countries and meet more people face to face. Certainly the privilege of his passport allows it.

Much better question to ask is –  how are we, Americans, relating to you? The same as I need to ask – how are we, Latvians, relating to you? A friend of mine, Jeff Fountain, writes that “nations can find meaning in being rightly related to other nations, just as is true for us as individual persons.”

Let’s be very curious about each other…

International Airport Departures Board

Places to go and people to meet…

Latviski:

Iespiesta starp diviem svešiniekiem, priecājos, ka esmu tik maziņa. Īpaši izmantojot lētu aviokompāniju ar maziem sēdekļiem.

Man pa labi apsēdās amerikānis pusmūža gados, kas atgriezās mājās no biznesa brauciena. Pa kreisi iekārtojās jauns džeks ar aziātiskiem sejas vaibstiem, ģērbies kā budistu mūks. Lidojām no Bostonas uz Mineapoli, un man ļoti gribējās gulēt. Kā nekā, jau trešais lidojums vienā dienā. Iekārtojoties lidmašīnā, mani blakussēdētāji bija pārāk aizņemti ar saviem tālruņiem, un es to uztvēru kā ‘labu zīmi’, ka neviens negribēs sarunāties.

Pašķielēju uz jaunā džeka pusi, un pasmaidīju par mainīgo pasauli un mainīgajiem uzskatiem. Budistu mūks ar iPhone…

Pēkšņi amerikānis nolēma būt pieklājīgs amerikāņu gaumē un uzdeva dažus jautājumus. Mani tomēr vairāk interesēja tas mūks, un beidzot saņēmos pajautāt, kādas krāsas mantija viņam mugurā. Zināju, ka Taizemes mūki velk oranžas mantijas, bet viņam bija tumši sarkana ar zilu apmalīti. Puisis sāka skaidrot, ka seko Tibetas skolai, kas ir Mahajāna budisma novirziens. Viņš pats bija no Taivānas, dzīvo Indijā, bet atbraucis uz ASV kā tulks.

Te nu mēs bijām kopā ‘apvienotās nācijas’ no Latvijas, Taivānas un ASV. Iespiesti mazajās sēdvietās un izbaudot lēto lidojumu ērtības un neērtības. Amerikānis palika tāds domīgs un tad jautāja mums abiem, ko šobrīd cilvēki pasaulē sakot par ASV?

Tik izplūdis jautājums, bet es sapratu, ko viņš grib zināt. Viņam neinteresēja, ko cilvēki domā par amerikāņu modi, frizūrām, vēsturi, svētkiem, darba tikumu vai filmām. Pat neprecizējot bija skaidrs, ka viņš jautā par Amerikas ārlietu politiku. Ar tādu norūpējušos skatienu.

Mana atbilde bija tikpat izplūdusi, kā viņa jautājums, jo es novēroju, ka viņš neprot klausīties. Viņam jautājumi lēkāja uz visām pusēm, un tajā pašā laikā viņš ātri zaudēja interesi, ja nebija ‘gaidītā’ atbilde. Puisis no Taivānas gan atbildēja ļoti dedzīgi, un izskaidroja, ka ģeopolitisko un vēsturisko iemeslu dēļ ASV un Japāna ir galvenie un svarīgākie Taivānas sabiedrotie.

Vēl mūks sāka runāt par to, ka mums vajag vairāk cienīt vienam otru, ieskaitot cilvēku reliģiskos uzskatus. Kā piemēru viņs minēja savu drēbnieku, kas šujot viņa klostera budistu mūkiem mantijas, lai gan pats esot musulmanis. Visur ir labi un slikti cilvēki, bet labais un skaistais pasaulē ir vairākumā. Man atlika vienīgi piekrist.

Es sapratu, ka amerikāņa ‘ziņkārībai’ ir robežas. Viņš atzinās, ka neesot ceļojis ārpus valsts, un neesot bijis ne Eiropā, ne Āzijā. Izklausījās, ka viņam nav pat vēlēšanās ceļot. Kaut gan viņa pase, un drošvien arī ienākumi dod šīs privilēģijas un iespējas.

Pēc sarunas man radās secinājums par vienu no mūsu visu problēmām. Ja mēs runājam nevis par starpvalstu attiecībām, bet par “ārlietām”, tad arī bieži paliekam šajās kategorijās – “ārējās” un “lietas”. Tad nostiprinās “mēs” un “viņi” un “mūsu politika” pret “viņu politiku”. “Ārējais” izklausās kā kaut kas svešs un tāls. Un starp mums ir jākārto kaut kādas “lietas”.

Šim vīrietim tas viss arī paliks tāls un svešs, ja viņš nekļūs vēl vairāk zinātkārs, un mazliet nepabraukās pa pasauli, lai satiktu citus aci pret aci. Ja idejas paliks ideju līmenī, bet bez cilvēka sejas.

Daudz labāk būtu uzdot šādus jautājumus – kā mēs, amerikāņi, pret jums izturamies? Kādas mums ir attiecības? Tāpat kā man ir jājautā – kā mēs, latvieši, pret jums izturamies? Man pazīstams vēsturnieks Džefs Fountans raksta, ka “nācijas iegūst savu patieso jēgu pareizās attiecībās ar citām nācijām, tāpat kā tas notiek mūsu personīgajās dzīvēs.”

Tāpēc būsim daudz ziņkārīgāki…

 

 

 

 

Looking at our compass to guide through the EU crisis

For sure I am no expert on the EU but I do know a thing or two. Firstly, most people, including myself, recognize that we are in a serious crisis. You hear it described as ‘existential’. The question of ‘to be or not to be’.

Also, I know that any crisis and pressure – personal or social – exposes and reveals many things. It exposes our inner thoughts, our character and values. Like a piece of fruit, under pressure we crack and ‘juice’ comes out. Is it a bitter lemon or sweet mango? We learn more about each other when things get hard. While the sun is shining, we can be polite, respectful, unselfish and share smile and hugs. When disaster or tragedy strikes, we often react in unexpected ways.

I have noticed this in my own life. I can be quite satisfied with myself when things are easy but during a major challenge or stress I suddenly start thinking, doing and saying things that later make me ashamed. Some of it is normal and healthy but some of it is very ugly and shocking.

Major crisis will often have different results. Some people (and communities and nations) go though it with dignity and it makes them a better person – wiser, gentler, more compassionate, generous and humble while others become worse – foolish, harsh, bitter, proud and aggressive. Or they simply give up on living. This is the age-old mystery for philosophers and spiritual leaders and all of us. Where does the inner strength come from? Where does the courage and wisdom come from when there seems no ‘way through’ or no ‘way forward’?

There is a saying that “Trouble does not come alone” or “When it rains, it pours”. Well, it is pouring trouble right now in Europe. I am sure that for many of the EU leaders it feels like a hurricane (I should not say this since I am writing this blog but I would not want their job). Grexit, Brexit, refugees, border closures, barbed wire fences, Russia, Ukraine, right-wing, left-wing, new tribalism…

Our official EU motto is “United in diversity.” Nobody doubts the ‘diversity’ part but what about the other? Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, said these words in his State of Union address in 2015. “There is not enough Europe in this Union. And there is not enough Union in this Union.” So, we continue to see reactions and actions and many of those have shocked us. I hear this expression a lot, “We are cutting the branch we are sitting on.” What is this branch?

I think of it as our moral compass. There are major directions it is supposed to point to:

Peace and Reconciliation: In 2012, the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize for having “contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe” We have enjoyed peace among the EU member states for many decades and we start to take it for granted. This peace was very hard to accomplish and the reconciliation is still ongoing. Again and again we forget that if France and Germany did not reconcile, we would not have any European integration. It is also important to know and to remember that the political leaders who made these courageous decisions, were very much inspired by their religious beliefs and values.

Humanity and Human Rights: One of the high expectations of anyone who lives in Europe and those who come here is the emphasis on dignity and worth of every individual human being. Again it has spiritual roots – human beings made in the image of God. European Convention on Human Rights was adopted in 1950. It is a  “living instrument” which means that it incorporates changes in law and society. It is legally binding for 47 European countries, not just the EU. Also, we have the European Court of Human Rights with possibly the highest success rate in the world. It is understandable why in so many interviews, the refugees and asylum seekers who have experienced mistreatment on our soil complain, “We thought that Europe is the place where human rights are respected.”

Common good and Solidarity: This is one of the most challenging principles of our supranational institutions. The idea that we share all the responsibilities and obligations as much as the privileges. The idea that bigger and stronger ones cannot take advantage of smaller and weaker ones. Again and again we see our solidarity tested and often we fail. The critics will say that it is humanly impossible; that nations are too selfish and greedy because we are human. It is true and that is why holding ourselves accountable to the goal of common good is existential.

Freedom and Democracy: There are certain standards that countries need to achieve before they can become members of the EU. Latvia had to do its own homework for the privilege of joining. What was required?  A stable democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law. It was not easy and it still a work in progress but we have come a long way. Freedom has to be learned and lived. Tunne Kelam, MEP from Estonia, says, “True freedom is not arbitrary or aimless. True freedom is to reach truth and common good. “As we can see from so many examples around the world, it takes time and lots of political will.

Time of crisis is time for great opportunity. I agree with the words of Tomáš Halík, the Czech philosopher, priest and theologian. “We need great Europeans with spiritual strength, intellectual vitality and practical thinking. … European democracy needs European ‘demos’.”

 

53d9d93cdcd5888e145a6d35_maphead-center-europe-purnuskes-lithuania

Geographical center of Europe in Lithuania (photo from the Internet)

Latviski:

Katrā ziņā neesmu eksperte Eiropas Savienības jautājumos, tomēr šo to saprotu. Pirmkārt,  ir skaidrs, ka mēs piedzīvojam ļoti smagu krīzi. Daudzi to raksturo kā ‘eksistenciālu’. Tātad tiek uzdots jautājums – būt vai nebūt?

Vēl es zinu to, ka katra krīze un izaicinājums izgaismo un atklāj daudzas lietas. Gan personiskajā, gan sabiedrības dzīvē. Krīzes izgaismo mūsu dziļākās domas, raksturu un vērtības. Kā auglis, kuru saspiežot, iztek sula, arī mēs zem liela spiediena izrādam savu iekšieni. Vai esam skābs citrons vai salds mango? Mēs uzzinām viens par otru vairāk, kad iet grūti. Kad saule spīd, ir viegli būt pieklājīgiem, pazemīgiem, nesavtīgiem, un smaidīt, un apkampties. Kad problēmas vai nelaime, mēs bieži vien reaģējam pilnīgi neparedzētā veidā.

Es neesmu nekāds izņēmums. Kad man iet viegli un labi, esmu diezgan apmierināta ar sevi. Kad nonāku grūtos un sarežģītos apstākļos, pēkšņi sāku domāt, darīt un runāt lietas, ko pēc tam nožēloju vai par kurām kaunos. Daļēji tas ir normāli, veselīgi un cilvēcīgi, bet daļēji tas ir neglīti un šokējoši.

Krīzes noved pie dažādiem rezultātiem. Ir cilvēki (un kopienas un nācijas), kuri iet cauri grūtībām ar cilvēcisku cieņu un drosmi, un kļūst labāki – gudrāki, mierīgāki, žēlsirdīgāki, dāsnāki, pazemīgāki – , bet citi kļūst sliktāki – muļķīgāki, sarūgtināti, mazāk žēlsirdīgi, vēl skopāki, dusmīgi un agresīvi. Vai vienkārši pārstāj dzīvot pilnvērtīgu dzīvi. Tas ir tas lielais un mūžīgais noslēpums, ko cauri gadsimtiem mēģina izprast gudrie un vienkāršie. No kurienes nāk šis iekšējais spēks? No kurienes nāk gudrība un drosme atrast izeju no strupceļa jeb bezizejas?

Ir tāds teiciens, ka nelaime jeb problēma nenāk viena. Vai arī, kad līst, tad gāž. Nu, Eiropā gāžas pamatīgs ‘problēmu’ lietus. Varbūt daudziem ES vadītājiem liekas, ka pat orkāns. Lai gan rakstu, jo neesmu pret šīm lietām vienaldzīga, teikšu godīgi, ka negribētu būt viņu amatos šajā brīdī. Brexit, Grexit, patvēruma meklētāji, aizvērtas robežas, dzeloņdrāšu žogi, Krievija, Ukraina, galēji labējie, galēji kreisie, pašizolēšanās…

Mūsu oficiālā ES devīze ir “Vienoti dažādībā”. Neviens nešaubās par dažādību, bet kā ar to otro? Žans Klods Junkers, Eiropas Komisijas presidents, savā runā par Eiropas Savienības stāvokli 2015. gadā teica šādus vārdus. “Šajā Savienībā ir par maz Eiropas. Un šajā Savienībā ir par maz Savienības.” Mēs turpinam vērot eiropiešu dažādās reakcijas, darbības, vārdus, un daudz kas mūs šokē. Bieži dzirdu frāzi, ka paši zāģējam zaru, uz kura sēžam.

Uz kā tad mēs sēžam? Es to sauktu par mūsu morālo kompasu. Atļaušos atgādināt dažus no virzieniem, uz kuriem šim kompasam jānorāda.

Miers un izlīgums: 2012. gadā Eiropas Savienība saņēma Nobela Miera prēmiju par ieguldījumiem sešu desmitgažu garumā, veicinot mieru, izlīgumu, demokrātiju un cilvēktiesības. Mēs esam baudījuši šo mieru tik ilgi, ka esam jau pie tā pieraduši, un bieži vien pienācīgi nenovērtējam. Šo mieru nebija viegli sasniegt, un izlīguma process vēl daudzviet turpinās. Mēs piemirstam, ka, ja Francija un Vācija nebūtu izlīgušas, nekādas Eiropas integrācijas nebūtu. Vēl ir svarīgi atcerēties, ka tā laika politiķus un viņu drosmīgos lēmumus iedvesmoja viņu reliģiskā pārliecība.

Cilvēcīgums un cilvēktiesības: Viena no lietām, ko mēs sagaidām, dzīvojot vai pat tikai viesojoties Eiropā, ir cieņa pret katru individuālo cilvēku. Arī tam ir garīgs un morāls pamats – uzskats, ka katrs cilvēks ir īpašs un vērtīgs, jo radīts Dieva līdzībā. Eiropas Cilvēktiesību Konvencija tika pieņemta 1950. gadā, un tā seko izmaiņām likumos un sabiedrībā. To ir parakstījušas 47 valstis Eiropā, tātad ne tikai ES dalībvalstis. Vēl mums ir Eiropas Cilvēktiesību Tiesa, kas darbojas ar lieliem panākumiem. Tāpēc ir viegli saprast, kāpēc tik daudzās intervijās ar patvēruma meklētājiem, kuri piedzīvojuši sliktu apiešanos vai cilvēktiesību pārkāpumus, var dzirdēt vārdus – mēs sagaidījām, ka Eiropa ir tā vieta, kur tiek ievērotas cilvēku tiesības.

Kopīgais labums un solidaritāte: Šķiet, ka te ir vislielākais izaicinājums mūsu pārnacionālajām (supranacionālajām) attiecībām un institūcijām. Ideja un ideāls, ka mēs dalām pienākumus un atbildību, ne tikai privilēģijas un labumus. Ideāls, ka lielākie un stiprākie nevar izmantot mazākos un vājākos. Šī kopība tiek nemitīgi pārbaudīta, un mēs bieži atkrītam. Kritiķi un skeptiķi teiks, ka šis ideāls vispār nav sasniedzams, jo nācijas ir pārāk egoistiskas un mantkārīgas, jo tās vada vienkārši cilvēki. Tā ir realitāte, un tāpēc ir tik svarīgi pašiem turēt šo latiņu augstu un negrozāmu, lai domātu par kopīgo, nevis tikai savējo labumu. Savādāk varam iet katrs savā viensētā, un celt savus žogus.

Brīvība un demokrātija: Lai kļūtu par ES dalībvalsti, ir jāparakstās zem šīm politiskajām tradīcijām un brīvības un likuma mantojuma. Latvijai bija jāveic liels mājasdarbs, lai iegūtu šo privilēģiju. Kas tika pieprasīts? Stabila demokrātija, kur tiek ievērotas cilvēktiesības un likums. To sasniegt nebija tik vienkārši, un mums daudz kas vēl jāuzlabo, bet esam nogājuši  lielu ceļa gabalu. Brīvību ir jāmācās un jāpraktizē. Tune Kelams, padomju laika disidents un šobrīd EP deputāts no Igaunijas, atgādina, ka “Brīvība nav nejauša vai bezmērķīga. Patiesa brīvība ved uz patiesību un kopīgo labumu.” Kā mēs varam secināt no daudziem starptautiskiem piemēriem, ir vajadzīgs laiks un stipra politiska griba.

Jebkura krīze ir arī laiks lielām iespējām. Piekrītu Tomašam Halikam, čehu filozofam, katoļu priesterim un teologam, ka “mums vajadzīgi eiropieši ar garīgu spēku, intelektuālu enerģiju un praktisko domāšanu. … Eiropas demokrātijai ir vajadzīgs eiropeisks demos.”