Freedom is not enough!

Freedom is not enough!

The mass carrying torches is impressive. About fifteen thousand people march, mainly silently through the streets of Riga, Latvia. It’s November 18, Independence Day. ‘The 99th’, people say when I ask about the year. Some do not know exactly, but most say: ‘1918’. This I find interesting, because Latvian independence lasted from 1918-1941, and then again independence was declared in 1991. So they ‘forget’ about the for many Latvians painful era, 50 years long, of what many experience as a Russian occupation. 

The Latvian woman walking next to me whispers: ‘I’m so happy there are also Russians joining here!’. I notice that often, when Latvians speak about Russians they lower their voice, probably unconsciously, but it happens. Half of the population of Riga is Russian. 

In four days time I meet many people and may work with leaders in several types of organizations: multinationals, ngo’s, governmental organizations and associations. And slowly it dawns to me: Latvians and many of these organizations are struggling with their identity. And somehow it seems ‘easier’ for them to derive or borrow an identity from a mother company or an international organization then to create their own identity and leading principles, fit for Latvian society. (Leading principles is the answer to the question: ‘What are we for society?’)

And also it becomes clear: if they don’t build an identity of their own, the chances are high that others will impose an identity on them. And in a certain way that would mean that the pattern of systemic occupation will continue……

I hear the Latvian president during his speech at the monument of independence talk about: ‘We are belonging to Europe now…’ 

You really would grant them they do this from a strong own identity.

Freedom is not enough…

In deep gratitude for what I was taught by the Latvians

Jan Jacob Stam