Months ago, we’d planned to write about the friendship between RBG and Antonin Scalia. When Ms. Ginsburg died two Fridays ago, we knew that topic would have to wait. Having listened to so many reflections on her life and just generally basking in her awesomeness, it seems the best way to honor the notorious one is to emulate her in whatever ways we can.
Surely by now, you know that every woman who has a credit card, or rents or owns in her own name, owes that to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Until Ruth came along, women couldn’t serve on a jury and women in the military couldn’t get equal family housing or benefits for their spouse.
She was the first woman to be on two major law reviews. She was the highest ranking female student in her class at Cornell. All of this achieved by a woman who couldn’t get a job in the legal profession out of law school after graduating tied for first in her class at Columbia! In fact, her law professor had to threaten a judge in order for her to obtain a clerkship. She has been touted as the Thurgood Marshall of women's rights litigation.
And now that she’s passed, I’ve heard from some friends that it feels like the last tenuous connection between democracy and pure craziness has been severed. But I believe now is the time to take a cue from the Notorious One herself. None of the things that she accomplished were on a likely, predictable path. She created her own future (and ours) from nothing but her big beautiful mind.
This is most certainly not the time to despair and lose hope & faith. No, no, NO! It’s most definitely the time to put your shoulders back, chin up and go forward in unexpected, unpredictable ways, because - what do you have to lose?
It’s time to ask yourself at every turn “WWRD?”. What would Ruth do?
If you are joining Amy in using Rosh Hashana to call it quits on 2020 and start a new year, with a shiny new mindset, then this is the perfect time to come up with your new word for the year. Think about words like dogged, fighter, persistence, vision, unity, Pussy Power! Whatever gets you out of your chair and sets your hair on fire. Use it. Imagine your future octogenarian self doing the RBG workout in a world that has a $20 bill with her picture on it, with 9 female POC supreme court justices, where women are paid an equal wage, AND we’ve turned the tide on climate change AND health care is a human right. Because if you can imagine it, it can happen. And if you don’t, who will?
I felt that the moment I heard RBG’s rabbi’s words in her eulogy, “Justice did not arrive like a lightning bolt, but rather through dogged persistence," Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt said of the late justice during her reflection. “All the days of her life she pursued justice." Holtzblatt urged “we the people" to carry on Ginsburg’s legacy.
So, WWRD? Certainly not hand wringing and commiserating. Not ululating and mourning the loss of democracy. Seriously, what we’ve had historically isn’t even the best version of democracy. It wasn’t a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It was a good start.
Remember the meme that went around saying that scientists say that the first person to live for 150 years had already been born. The tagline was “Please let it be Ruth Bader Ginsburg”. I say it can still be - through each of us, our daughters and our doggedness. May it be so.