Introduction by Bircan Ünver: Welcome to the Light Millennium TV program. Today, we will introduce to you The Light Millennium as the UN affiliated organization. Also, we will introduce multiple perspectives, which means we will have five co-hosts who are producers at Queens Public Television and my colleagues and friends who have been helping [me] to bring the Light Millennium TV Series [to you], as well as I’ve been helping them. This platform [The Light Millennium - LM], brings people from all walks of life to produce programs by collaborating and partnering [with interested institutions, non-profits/non-governmental organizations, and private sector.] So now, our first co-host is Mel Berkowitz.
Mel Berkowitz: Hi, welcome. I’ve been a producer for sixteen years. I’ve also been a professor in teaching biology and am familiar with lot of The Light Millennium’s programs. What are the goals… I have a feeling that it is educational, cultural communications of various cultures, and [what I understand is…] you wanted [bring people closest one to another through their ideas in order to be familiar with each other.
Bircan Ünver: It’s very well defined and summarized. Yes, but it has more focus on freedom of expression. LM Fosters global connectivity, cultural diversity, intellectual productivity; again, from all walks of life and not just people who are privileged. But rather, journalists, tv producers, videographers, photographers, writers, actors, and actresses who have been suffering in terms of supporting themselves. Therefore, not only those who have that capacity of education and dedication, but also those that become stars on the international or nationwide level. But as I mentioned previously, the majority, even though they have many years of education, they are not able [to sustain their own lives.] That setup has a negative impact especially in the general public. For instance, you might have a child that says I want to be a painter or I want to be artist, I want to be a writer, in most cases, but within the family, nobody wants to support that child unless the family has that kind of pedigree or background, or dedication. So The Light Millennium moves that in to the organizational level by creating a platform to present ideas, photography, arts, exhibitions, music, and writings.
On the other hand, we cannot compensate them because it is volunteer-based. But the initial concept is, let’s create a platform, let’s bring the ideas and present them side-by-side. Because 'ideas can’t fight each other, it won’t hurt each other but people do.' So don’t manipulate the ideas, just let people read and understand one another from all ages, all culture yet it’s limited into languages. But you know, English is also the largest language and Turkish is the fourth largest spoken, so also depending on funds and more support, we could have more language and more outreach. At this stage, the vision is that everyone should have the capacity to see and explore their own potential, whomever they like to be!
Mel: So you’re providing the channel or the exposure of these people expressing themselves on a larger canvass throughout the world, through the internet, expression of ideas and there are no restrictions on what they can say. You are giving people an opportunity here to express ideas and or innovative artwork and that’s the purpose of The Light Millennium.
Bircan: I must say that there are slightly two restrictions or maybe more than that, the general framework is that we are not encouraging political ideas because political ideas always get funds. I mean they got the most out of whole system globally and politics always divides, whether you are part of a political party's ideology or not.
Mel: Well this is more cultural, artistic and humanitarian.
Bircan: Humanitarian, maybe is the best word because it’s also artistic, it’s also cultural, it also covers human experience. The other angle is also religion because we respect anyone's religion. However, we definitely don’t have restrictions that we don’t like this religion or that religion, but when we receive any religious propaganda, we don’t publish it because religion and politics become dividers instead of uniters. So in order to avoid those sharp, strong angles, for instance, if you write something or attend [and be part of] our programs, you might refer to your cultural background and it’s perfectly fine, but if you write, make a speech, or send in an article about being a guest in our program promoting one religion over others, that is not right. The other restrictions are promoting war, discrimination, however, other than that, [we are] open to all ideas without censorship. And even though the capacity is very little, the overall goal is also creating archive of our conscious on the time that we’ve been living in.
Mel: Right. So in other words, you want the people to know the various ideas, the various expressions and many different aspects without being politically motivated or religiously motivated?
Bircan: Yes, however it could be politically and religiously motivated, but if you act like you are in political debate, instead of engaged in interfaith dialogue, and if one religion aims to control or convert others, or for example, refers how Islam being bad, etc. then we may not publish it.
Mel: In other words you’re non-judgmental.
Bircan: Exactly. Everyone has freedom to choose, but if you start to say that this is the only one, this the best one, this is the right one, then it is very much picking up a political idea and most of the time, politics and religion go hand-in-hand and it’s hard to separate. Therefore, the human interest [is forgotten]! We are not talking about this country’s interest, that country’s interest, or this corporation or that corporation, but rather human interest, where is the human interest, where is the Light Millennium?
Mel Berkowitz: Okay, thank you very much. I’m inviting Lauren Fiorentino as the next co-host to discuss Light Millennium.
- Friendly version of the video interview. Updated on July 7, 2013.
Special Thanks to:
Cora FERNANDEZ, Volunteer Asistant to The Light Millennium, for the transcription of the interview.
Alana BACHE, Member of the Editing/Proofreading Committee, for her proofreading.