I’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.