Blasphemy and the Teddy Bear

2007-12-01 — Good Characters (Leave a message)

In western society a name can be used freely and even trivially. One can grant a name to just about anything with no worries, while in Sudan a teacher who named a teddy bear Mohammed is now being prosecuted by the Sudanese government and is facing harsh punishment. This incident has caused great controversy and has shocked this side of the globe. Americans may deem Sudan’s attitude towards the teddy bear incident as extreme and irrational, but one must also take in to account that there are many existing cultures that believe there is a great significance behind a name.

Hundreds of years ago in China names were not to be used trivially. Just recently, I was going over my family tree and realized that my family name was linked to one of ancient China’s emperor. In the record of my family line, at some point in time one of the Chuang’s was an artist to the emperor who carried the same name. Out of respect for the emperor his name had to be changed. Historically in China, your whole family could be killed if the name was already that of a royal figure. In western society a name could be taken for granted, but in China as well as in other countries, a name must be taken very seriously.

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