I lived through the Vietnam War, having been just old enough to watch the evening news as the anchors would speak of the inflated daily number of troop casualties. I watched the related, seemingly daily, protests of this war as well.
I was around for the shooting of students at Kent State (“four dead in O-hi-o”). Be it the 1968 Watts riots, the 92 LA riots, the social tensions of the OJ Simpson trial, the bombing of the twin towers, or several major earthquakes, my 57 years have seen and experienced quite a bit. Perhaps what the physical body loses as one ages is made up for in psychological terms through the vast number of experiences one possesses over their younger counterparts with each passing decade.
Experience means something. As we age, the “been there, done that” events increase while the “I never thought I’d see the day” stuff becomes fewer and farther between. So as I contend that our youth may benefit from those of us who have been around the block a few times, I like to live by the same principle as I look up to my elders.
Enter the 87 year-old Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or as some like to refer to her as “The Notorious R.B.G.” RBG is undoubtedly one of my very few heroes in life. I would argue, strongly argue in fact, that Ginsburg has single-handedly done more for Women’s Right and progress in this country than any other single individual. Feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, second wavers Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, are often credited with women’s social advancement and have traditionally been considered the face of the movement.
If these women have been considered the face of the women’s movement, Ginsburg is the heart and soul.
Yes, I know it takes a myriad of different voices, strengths and gifts to empower a movement, therefore you might say RBG is the MVP on a really good team. You think the Chicago Bulls would have won 6 championships in 1990s without Michael Jordan? Hard to believe women would enjoy the same status today without the tireless efforts of RBG.
Why? While some have protested and caused waves while making the evening news, Ginsburg was busy changing laws and fighting in court and instituting real change.
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” ~RBG
She was accepted into Harvard Law in 1956 and was one of only 9 women in a class of 500. And though I am oh-so-tempted to begin a litany of all her lifetime of accomplishments in terms of women’s right in this country, do yourself a favor and read up on this absolutely amazing human being. Any 14th amendment related issues in terms of gender discrimination have been fought hard by Ginsburg and nearly all have been won. Agree or disagree with her, and for better or worse, she is a person who has changed every person’s life in this country- every man, woman and child.
“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” ~RBG
Wikipedia writes that, “in 2002, Ginsburg was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Ginsburg has been named one of 100 Most Powerful Women (2009), one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year 2012, and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people (2015). She has been awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by Willamette University (2009), Princeton University (2010), and Harvard University (2011).”
Yet these are not the top reasons I absolutely adore and respect “The Notorious R.B.G.” Among the top reasons she has earned my deep respect is her civil and dignified approach to very volatile issues.
“Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.” ~RBG
Her best friend on the Supreme Court, before his passing, was radically conservative justice Antonin Scalia. Ginsburg and Scalia would golf together, do lunch together, and, above all, laugh together. These two human beings were as ideologically far apart as two people could possibly be, yet found a way to go beyond just being able to coexist, they were best friends.
“You can disagree without being disagreeable.” ~RBG
Today we can all learn a life-changing lesson from Ginsburg. A lesson that teaches us that real change is not generated from memes, quippy remarks and snarky social media posts, rather real change is changing the fundamental structure of social policy and law. Additionally, Ginsburg teaches us that we need not be hateful or belligerent in the process. Rather we can be friends and take solace in the understanding of where real change takes place.
So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” ~RBG
Currently the 87 year-old Ginsburg is not in good health but still remains on the SCOTUS.
Perhaps we can all learn a lesson from Ginsburg in today’s rare “I never thought I’d see the day” moments. As one who teaches persuasion, my students know I care very little for the positions one holds and the stances one takes, rather I do care about those stances being articulated with civility while possessing a genuine willingness to listen to others and be open to change.
“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” ~RBG
Thank you Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You have taught us that a person may go out on the streets and scream today, yet if it does not change tomorrow, it matters not. All the while sharing my basic philosophy:
“When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out.” ~RBG
Thank you for being an elder I can look up to Justice Ginsburg. We need more of you.