Double Identity

  • 2005-06-01
I'd like to express my viewpoint on such a phenomenon as "national identity." National and ethical issues have never been unequivocal and simple ones. They're the most complicated matters, referring both to the intimate and public life of every individual. National grounds, as part of each individual's personal identity, have always played a crucial role in defining principal issues over the course of history. Progressive leaps forward in ideas, wars, and tragedies are all inextricably laced with the notion of "national identity."

I'd like to touch upon this specifically in the Baltic context. Language is the basic element of every person's self-consciousness, and the main vehicle of his or her communication with the outside world. Language is also the principle form of a person's self-expression. The same is pertinent to the way each state expresses itself culturally. No language means no national identity. How people manage to treat this issue internationally will largely determine the future of our planet. Besides, the right to a national identity is a basic human right.

Herein I see two crucial Baltic tasks: firstly, to strengthen and enhance our own Baltic identities 's i.e., Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian nationalities; secondly, and most importantly, to help our fellow countrymen stay here for good if they'd like to. Here I mean Russian-speaking persons. The minority issue is one of the most delicate and complicated national tasks. In my opinion, there is no local Russian identity. Even the words "ethnicity" and "nationality" are completely identical in Russian. Most local Russian speakers watch mostly Moscow state-controlled TV, read only Russian papers, sing the same songs as they sing thousands of miles away, know the same stories and anecdotes.

In my opinion, as long as the only informational, cultural and spiritual sources for Russian people living thousands of kilometers apart remain centered around Moscow and St. Petersburg, there can be no progress in the Baltic's minority human rights sector. As long as Russian-speaking people across the former empire are mentally living in Moscow, they can share no understanding for the indigenous people living by their sides. Only when local Russian-speakers will become holistic 's i.e., settle here not only physically but also mentally and spiritually 's can they become wholly a part of Baltic society. This is the sole way to prosperous communal co-existence.

There have already been some excellent examples of this "double" identity. Everybody in Latvia knows the names Masha Naumova, Ainars Mielavs and Arturs Duboks, performing their stage acts in two languages. Nobody would ever find a reason to reproach them. In sum, our Baltic challenge is enormous, but the outcome might turn out to be very promising.

Gundars Sondors

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