|UNDER THE SUN: ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
A Shared Ground & A Shared Future
by Bircan ÜNVER*
Dedicated to: ALL THE VOICES OF YOUTH
It is great being here. My name is Bircan Ünver, and I am the founding president of the Light Millennium organization based in NY, which is a multi-media alternative global platform and cultural organization, and co-founder of the Turkish-Armenian Synergy Initiative with Diana Khachaturyan, CSI**.
I am honored and privileged to have this great opportunity to present you this paper, in particular, to the students and youth, which titled, “UNDER THE SUN: On Freedom of Expression” in collaboration with the Civil Society Institute, Yerevan.
Through this presentation, I would like to propose to all of you to write your ideas to be e-published and shared with others globally.
I also would like to ask you to encourage your circles including all generations--like building blocks--towards the goal of "melting ices and removing prejudices between individuals, communities and cultures toward to evolving a new model for global co-existing peace culture.”
Because, we ALL are in need to express our thoughts, feelings, struggles, pains, imaginations, and dreams...
We ALL have fear in one or another form.
We ALL follow our emotions, social or cultural needs.
We ALL have our own ideas about life.
We ALL have nightmares and imaginations as well as dreams for a better tomorrow.
We come to this Earth basically in the same way, whether via a natural birth or a C-Section, or even as a "test-tube baby,"
and, we ALL are born and die...
We do have different values, colors of skin, languages, and cultures as well as beliefs.
We have more commonalities than differences amongst us.
The bottom line is, we ALL eat and transform our food into waste.
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When we are born, the physical space we occupy is tiny and when we die, our last standing point on this earth will hardly reach 2 meters of depth under the ground, or we will turn into ashes and dust, merge with water and earth, and then we will not take up any physical space. And each of us, from the very first day we were born, each and every day that we are alive until our departure, we experience three things which are intersected in each other as well as in the physical world: life-love-death.
Yet, for centuries until the present time on a SOLE tiny blue planet earth amongst the billions of others in our galaxy, it has come down to the fact that, only 1 to 5 percent of the world population at the maximum has been owning, controlling, manipulating our earth, sky, natural resources, and wealth. They also have been controlling and manipulating us that we have been slaves for them in one form or another. They have been dividing us, creating conflicts amongst and within us, pouring resources and funds in order to keep the conflicts UNRESOLVED or for self-destruction of the world!
As we are proceeding this conference, young people are more and more being drawn into conflicts, being used as terrorists, at the same time as means for political interests of some. And supporting the young people by providing weapons to them or drawing them into a kind of drug or smoke addiction, but not making available for them a decent education, health system, and the existing political structure which has created a major gap between the majority of the world population and rulers of the world have been the main reasons for creating grounds for "terrorists" or "live-bombs"!
If those people have had a decent education, profession, and social and family lives in their home country and could be able to live in peace and harmony, perhaps the word "live-bomb” wouldn't exist at all.
If the politicians have had allocated funds not for providing weapons or plotting conflicts but for rehabilitation, problem solving, development, and sustainability, accordingly the whole human landscape would've been different in the world today.
But we all are well aware that this has not been the case. Yet, we are all part of that mechanism and under effect in one way or another. As we are all dependent on gravity, we are all interrelated with all the achievements of the humanity as well as all the problems, causes, greediness, insane agendas which are in practice--in some cases in the name of God in order to take away "others’ rights and lives"...
Beginning with the member states of the United Nations who had signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, how can we convince the leaders of these 192 countries that we are able to change these unjust, unequal and inhuman conditions for billions?
Or how can we change what is unequal, inhuman and evil? How can we prevent the everlasting threat for ALL HUMANITY and the planet EARTH which is A SHARED GROUND for all of us?
ONLY when we start writing from the deepest part of our hearts and highest level of our minds, and share them globally, will we have the key for a new era for evolvement of the humanity for the next stage.
In this presentation, I am not referring to any holy book or any famous author; I am referring to you: Seek the author in you, seek the creator which is part of you, seek and find your own medium and path that will be the echo of your being in this world. Thus, speaking or writing our ideas is and will be the KEY to share with, connect with, and better understand one another, acting the role of cement for a new era for humanity and universal peace.
Why writing is considered as the key for evolving a new model of nonviolent lifestyle:
·Writing in any form for any medium or purpose for a mutual need, goal, desire, imagination, dream, expectation, experience, and knowledge will also serve to create an archive of our consciousness in our times.
·Expressing ideas in any form or medium you feel comfortable with or like to do so will develop your ideas, involve others with writing, engage them in reading, writing, poetry, drawing, and photography workshops as part of the daily life and will contribute in the context of lifetime learning and evolvement.
·Your/our circles will expand through collaboration and exchange of projects.
·You will become a member of the global chorus through your ideas and presenting them in the global platform via inter-collaborated efforts.
·You will be able to reflect your love, passion, desire, and dreams in a way that could inspire others.
·Do not be afraid of writing about your struggles, puzzles, weakness, and pains. Once you share them, you will see that you are not ALONE, but rather you will be surprised that you are a representative for millions. And in most cases, we are better off or will feel better regardless of the difficult times we’ve been facing or have been dealing with.
·You will be able to reach out to children and younger generations to encourage them to present their ideas in various platforms as well as develop projects in order to collaborate with schools.
·You will be able to encourage the elderly and retired people to share their experiences and enable them in order to transform those experiences or dreams, making them able to continue contributing to their own communities in a different level that perhaps they never have had the chance during their professional lives.
These are also some of the alternative approaches within the context of the Light Millennium in terms of contributing to “A New Model of Nonviolent Lifestyle for Universal Peace and Sustainability."
These approaches could help us form a powerful voice and channel to lead some major changes when it reaches out to millions and millions. Presenting and sharing those ideas side by side could become the voice of all…
I consider that being productive and active, and contributing to our existence in accordance with the Light Millennium’s mission of “freedom of expression” is equally important to each and every one of us as food, breathing, and water.
Of course, fear has been holding us back from being able to express our thoughts, needs and common desires.
The fear has been decisively created in many forms and ways that build up and escalate in many of the countries. Reasons might change or appear differently, but the skeleton of each fear is very much the same.
Fear can show itself as: Fear to be killed, fear to be bombed, fear to be under-attack, fear to be invaded, fear to be fired, fear to lose a job, fear to lose home, fear of bankruptcy, fear of not being able to pay debts, fear to lose health benefit, or fear to end up in an hospital without any health benefit, fear to be thrown out from your home or apartment, fear to not being able to provide food or a decent life to your family and children, fear to not express your thoughts or feelings where you work, fear to talk about truth among family, women-to-women, man-to-man, among children, among friends. We’ve been filled up with fear in so many ways that I consider FEAR is OUR ENEMY besides HATE as Gandhi has stated.
In our time, OUR MAJOR ENEMY IS HAVING and LIVING IN FEAR OR NOT BEING ABLE TO GET OUT OF THE ONE WE ARE IN!
I would like to quote Prof. Talat Halman from his presentation on YUNUS EMRE[i]:
“WE LIVE IN AN AGE, WHICH ARTICULATES THE DRAMATIC CONTRAST OF LOVE AND HOSTILITY.
WAR IS RENOUNCED AS THE IMMEDIATE EVIL AND THE ULTIMATE CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.
LOVE IS RECOGNIZED AS THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE.
A MIGHTY SLOGAN OF THE 1960S AND 1970S WAS “MAKE LOVE / NOT WAR.” MIRACULOUSLY, THIS FORCEFUL STATEMENT IS AN ECHO FROM SEVEN CENTURIES AGO, FROM YUNUS EMRE WHO EXPRESSED THE SAME IDEA IN A RHYMED COUPLET:
I AM NOT HERE ON EARTH FOR STRIFE,
LOVE IS THE MISSION OF MY LIFE.”
As the Light Millennium, this is also our mission and vision as an alternative multi-media organization formed in order to promote and contribute to the Article 19th of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
This article and the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States are the cement of the organization. Since its inception in 2000, we've been practicing these articles within our existing capacity in the ways and forms to encourage potentially interested people from all walks of life to intellectual productivity and creativity with a strong belief that each and every one of us has it within us. I strongly think and believe in that expressing one’s thought and sharing it with others is one of the key instruments for a change starting from within us and spreading globally!
Based on this article and on behalf of the Light Millennium, we also would like to invite all of you to activate this article in your mind, daily life, and in your relationships. And as a result, if one achieves this goal, that will be a general reference for the accomplishment all of humanity...
I would like to conclude this presentation with a call, once again, by Yunus Emre:
COME LET US ALL BE FRIENDS FOR ONCE,
LET US MAKE LIFE EASY ON US,
LET US BE LOVERS AND LOVED ONES,
THE EARTH SHALL BE LEFT TO NO ONE.
Thank you all..
Edited by: Figen Bingul, Light Millennium
[i] A presentation by Prof Halman, Columbia University in collaboration with Light Millennium, on Oct. 27, 2008
*Founding President of the Light Millennium Multi-Media and Cultural Organization, NY/USA, and co-founder of the Turkish-Armenian Synergy with Diana Khachaturyan, CSI/Yerevan, Armenia (Sept.30, 2009 - Feb.6,2010). (Associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations - 2005, and member of the Non Profit Coordination Committee of New York, 2008).
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1) This workshop paper originally was written on "Freedom of Expression" as part II of the keynote speech for the 7th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action/ICPNA (10th - 14th November, 2008 - Jaipur – India, and was adopted to the TASI's launching programs in Yerevan in January 2010. Eventually, it was presented a shorter version of the above paper in 2 high schools in Yerevan.
2) Civil Society Institute-CSI has withdrawn itself from the Turkish-Armenian Synergy Initiative as of February 6, 2010.