Bans are Bandages not Solutions by Ivy Helman

meandmini1I’m heartbroken by yet another shooting in the United States.  I want to believe that all humans are, deep-down, intrinsically good.  I want to trust humans to act in the best interests of others.  I want peace between and inside human beings.  I want animals to be cared for, respected and deemed inherently valuable.  I want humanity to live in harmony with nature.  And, I want human societies that are just, equal and fair.

Even though I’m certain this world is achievable, it does not exist.  In fact, it often feels like we take one step forward, but something changes and we go back again.  This type of existence is no way to live.  In fact, Las Vegas was yet another example of how our way of life is worse than that.  It’s quite literally killing us.  And, I’m beyond any sort of ability to articulate just how upset I am.

My moral indignation is overflowing and Las Vegas is a small part of it.  Black lives matter.  Puerto Rico needs help.  Homosexuality is not a crime for which the death penalty should apply.  For that matter, the death penalty shouldn’t exist.  Neither should guns.  Transgender people are just as capable as non-trans people.

Tell me again, why are women in Saudi Arabia just now being granted the right to drive?  Why is there an island of plastic floating in the middle of the ocean?  Why are women still barred from the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church and from the rabbinate in Orthodox Judaism?  Why are a group of neo-Nazis called “very fine people” when they walk down the street chanting, “Jews will not replace us?”  Why can’t Christians freely practice their religion in China?  Why does where you are born determine your chances to survive infancy?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Patriarchy.  And capitalism. And racism.  And sexism.  And anti-Semitism.  And so on.

Patriarchy is a global problem with global effects.  Patriarchy is also particular and contextual.  There is no universal solution to every problem even if I wish there was.  However a universal ban on guns is necessary.  So too are universal bans on violence, rape, racism, sexism, exploitation, environmental destruction, capitalism, anti-Semitism…

In other words, we need to ban patriarchy.

Yet, while I’d be over the moon with such bans, they would be ineffective by themselves.  In other words, we can ban whatever we want, but without a concerted effort to change our behavior, no ban will succeed no matter how necessary.  Success requires learning to relate differently, interact differently, listen differently, and think differently.  We need to internalize new values, new perspectives and even new beliefs.  Creating bans may help temporarily to move us in the right direction, but they are bandages more than fixes.  True recovery takes time and a concerted effort at change.  Only then is a better world within our reach.


Ivy Helman, Ph.D. is feminist scholar and faculty member at Charles University and Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic where she teaches a variety of Jewish Studies and Ecofeminist courses.  She is an Associate of Merrimack College‘s Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations and spent many years there as an Adjunct Lecturer in the Religious and Theological Studies Department.

Author: Ivy Helman

Jewish feminist scholar, activist and professor living in Prague, Czech Republic.

7 thoughts on “Bans are Bandages not Solutions by Ivy Helman”

  1. “The New York Times” had an article today which pretty much appalled me:

    I responded to the article with this paragraph:

    “This is an unsettling article. Guns are created for one purpose: to maim and/or to kill. Why not eschew them entirely? The author claims hunting is “a fascinating and firsthand way to learn about wildlife and the ecosystem around me….” The Sierra Club and local hiking clubs offer the same benefit. Does she need to carry a gun with her on her outings? Sometimes she can “bring home healthy, tasty food.” Really?! She’s willing to kill an animal who lives within a specific environmental context in order to satisfy her taste buds–probably not something she needs to do in order to sustain her own life! Guns kill. Until we as a society decide wanton killing is unacceptable, we’ll continue our destructive path.”

    I think as long as we bicker amongst ourselves about 2nd amendment “rights,” open carry/concealed carry, and the “need” to have guns for self-protection from the bad guys, politicians are happy. They can muck about in the slop that goes nowhere. Radical times (our death-by-gun statistics are radical) call for radical action. We seem afraid to take decisive and radical action.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Esther I was appalled by this article. I live in NRA dominated western Maine where many people, local and out of state trophy hunters, kill anything that moves. I do know sensible gun owners who are at least more honest than this woman appears to be and more informed. The idea that she finds hunting “fascinating” has a sinister undertone… she is just -oh so rational – and not a thought for the lives of the animals she takes for her own pleasure. Disgusting.


  2. Perhaps a bandage is the best we can do for now. What we really need is a heart transplant. Behind all the weapons is fear, and profit. If we could let go of those two things, …. imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just had a friend who is otherwise intelligent repeat the NRA insanity that no guns were part of 911 and hate is the problem. We know hate is the problem but we are past the bandaid stage and into needing transfusions. We can control access to assault weapons abd hand guns because we cannot control hate.


  4. I keep thinking about how our culture glamorizes guns and the people, especially and mostly men, who shoot them. Every cop show, every law and order show shows guns as the first and only way to deal with dangerous situations and people. There is such a glamorous aura around guns!

    Just as we are changing the culture of smoking in our country, we need to change the culture of guns.


  5. “Success requires learning to relate differently, interact differently, listen differently, and think differently. We need to internalize new values, new perspectives and even new beliefs.”

    The above statement contains the key to our thinking but not the “how” of the action.


    I think it is already abundantly clear that until we learn to relate differently this unspeakable pattern of escalating violence and hatred will continue unabated.

    I no longer believe all people want to be decent… what we see every single day shows us otherwise. The dark side side of humanity is winning out because it has been given permission to do so…

    I was talking to a physicist friend of mine last night who said, this time without any conviction at all “I just can’t believe no one will stop him from this madness.” I replied, as I have so many times since the election “No one will – the PEOPLE have to stop him.” Almost a year later this man is coming to see that what I have said all along may true.

    Last night after listening to NPR discussion about the possibility – probability of war I wrote yet another email to my senator – Susan Collins – a plea for impeachment. If we keep this crazy person in office – permission for every atrocity will continue to escalate and we may all end up dead. This man embodies Patriarchy’s insanity.

    Impeachment is our last hope.


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