To many cultures Little Bear (Latin: Ursa Minor) was the Hole in which the earth’s axle found its bearing, the constellation most commonly associated with Polaris, the North Star.
Most inhabitants of the northern hemisphere connect little bear with teddy bear, a stuffed toy bear, honest and comforting companion able to turn into a living being within children’s magical and mythical mindscape protecting the children in times of solitude.
When I think of a teddy bear these days after reading world news I see in front of my mind’s eye very disturbing pictures: Thousands of armed Sudanese, rallying and actually demanding the execution of a British teacher found guilty of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear ”Muhammad” and subsequently being sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation.
How much must our globe with all its existing world views be out of whack to make for headlines like these? Certainly the conflict underlying this incident in Sudan cannot only be politically motivated to divert the attention of the world’s community from domestic troubles. It is enmeshed in much larger struggles. Evidently there are horrific, deep seated misunderstandings and bad feelings between nations and groups. The conflict undoubtedly has entered on a sickening emotional level that is far beyond rationality thus posing uncontrollable danger, ever more likely to turn deadly.
These and like radical phenomena currently appear the world over. After I arrived in Germany from the US I stumbled into the local Islamist scene when taking on the administration of a building. What I witnessed were radicals whose eyes gleamed joyfully upon hearing US soldiers in Irak being killed and beheaded. Accompanied was this reaction by the genocidal slogan: “Every dead American is a good American.“
This sounds just like genocidal imperialist General Philip Sheridan’s statement in 1869 which became US military policy for ensuing decades: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”
A statement which leads in a straight ideological line to Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt according to legend the name giver of the teddy bear– whose symbolic figure the bear became.
At an infamous speech in January of 1886 in New York some 15 years before Roosevelt became President of the US he comments: “I suppose I should be ashamed to say that I take the Western view of the Indian. I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”
So what has humankind learned throughout all those years, decades and centuries? Back then as now it is crucial to overcome preconceived notions and ideas and open up true dialogue to enhance the understanding between nations. How can it be the fact is hushed up that the civilian death toll in Iraq is extremely high, and the value put upon Afghan civilian lives by U.S. military planners and the political elite very low?
More easily accessible is information on the Taliban who in recent years often targeted civilians for activities they think sympathetic to foreign countries and international aid groups or forces. Frequently militants have targeted teachers and students at schools. On November 14th, the newspapers reported Taliban militants have shot and killed a man for teaching English in eastern Afghanistan.
In order to not turn into beasts fighting unknown incomprehensible enemies education is most urgently and desperately needed. Unfortunately education is one of the first casualties that falls to the wayside in times of fear chaos and instability. However no matter how hard the condition when we dream about a world of peace we have to work hard and harder still. There is no time to lose especially in education. Probably it is similar to life, when a day has passed it is over, it won’t come back.
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