Friday we lost a great American patriot and true hero of equality. She was a woman of unquestioned character with a mission in life to ensure the freedoms and liberties of our nation are a blanket of protection and opportunity for every man, woman and child within our borders. Ruth Bader Ginsberg was, until Friday September 18, 2020, a living legend in the fight for equal rights. Most see her as a champion of women’s rights, but that is to view her through a small lens and misses the foundation and the spectrum of her contributions. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg believed in human equality. She embodied the fight for human rights, that every person is entitled to the same considerations, liberties, and freedoms under the law without regard to race, gender, sexuality, religion, financial status, or national origin. RBG understood a wise truth: that the signing of our Declaration of Independence and the ratification of our Constitution was not the culmination of liberty and freedom achieved, but the beginning of that pursuit.
Our nation began as an infant, its expressed freedoms and rights bestowed on the few: male, white land-owners. But even as the men who crafted it kept their powers close, they also understood the nature of infancy: growth. Because of this foresight, they crafted a foundation to accommodate both growth and growing pains. They formulated a document to bind us and free us, with the flexibility to grow as we grew. They gave us the ability to become a more perfect union, a more inclusive republic, and a beacon of freedom to all people. The founding fathers created a completely new idea of patriotism, giving citizens the right and duty of dissent. They made a government answerable to the people, and placed in the hands of the people the right to ratify and change the boundaries of freedom and power.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg believed freedom and liberty and equal protection under the law were more than utopian talking points, but tangible rights affordable to everyone. Because of her contributions to the fight for equality, we are all freer today. While no one should look at our nation and claim we have achieved the pinnacle of equality, thanks to RBG, we climbed higher up that mountain, ever closer. Due in great part to her contributions, and those of so many other amazing patriots, women can purchase property, open bank accounts, obtain a credit card, and even buy a car without needing a man’s consent. Yes, not that long ago, women could do none of those things without their husband, father, brother or nearest male relative cosigning for them. People of color are able to obtain business loans, open businesses in any location, have credit cards, and purchase homes without being legally excluded from ‘desirable’ neighborhoods. LGBTQ people are protected under the equal rights amendment and further, we all can marry (or not marry) the person we love without consideration to gender, sexuality, race, or religion.
It would be a kind reflection to believe we could take some time to absorb the enormity of her accomplishments and the goals she still had yet to achieve, but that time spent pausing in memorial would be to undo so much of what she fought for. Without her kind but penetrating gaze and her stalwart dedication to equal justice, it is up to each of us to lift the torch she once held with seeming ease. It is heavy in our hands, but working together, we can continue this Everest climb to that ideal summit of true equality.
Let us not mourn quietly her loss, but celebrate her life by demanding what she demanded, by continuing her fight and seeing to it she did not labor her entire adult life in vain. Ruth Bader Ginsberg showed us how much one person can accomplish. Just think of the reality we could have if we all put in even a tenth of her effort to a better world. We have the ability to see that dream fulfilled; to be a true beacon of freedom to all the world. We can see the fruition of what was begun over two hundred forty-four years ago when the founders first began this trek. They were imperfect, as are we, but that does not dismiss the call to rise above ourselves, to be better, and to choose a better life and world for tomorrow.
Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, for showing us all that even if we feel small, we are still mighty enough to move this mountain and we can defeat any giant who stands between us and our liberty.
Fairfarren, Justice Ginsberg.
by Ann Lavendar