I’ve spent the past ten minutes thinking of a lead for this article. Thinking of the perfect sentence to encapsulate a champion of both social justice and women’s rights. Contemplating the best way to capture the fierce spirit of Ruth Bader Ginsburg that has inspired millions, including myself. However, after sitting and staring at a blinking cursor, it occurred to me that perhaps that is not what RBG would have wanted. Perhaps she would want our country to stop trying to find the right words to describe the magnitude of the loss we are facing. I think, and although I never met her, she would have wanted us to continue her fight on her behalf.
Despite being an octogenarian, it seems as if RBG never slept. She fought tirelessly, and there seemed to be little she could not do. In 1959, she graduated first in her class from Columbia Law School, while caring for her cancer-stricken husband and juggling the beginning of motherhood. She became the second female law professor at Rutgers University and fought for equal pay. She became the first person to be a member of both the Harvard and Columbia Law Reviews. Not the first female; the first person on both prestigious journals. She became the first tenured female law professor at Columbia, co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), brought six cases before the Supreme Court during the 1970s, became the first female Jewish Supreme Court justice (becoming one of only four female justices in American history), and was the first justice to officiate a same-sex marriage. She fought for gender equality until her dying breath. All of this barely makes a dent in her lifetime of accomplishments. Remarkably, she did all of this while not only building a judicial legacy, but also while becoming a bespectacled pop culture icon. Of course, this is not to mention that she endured health scares such as colon, lung, and pancreatic cancer. And while carrying the weight of what feels to be a teetering, if not a crumbling, democracy on her shoulders. To say she paved the way for women in this country is an understatement.
I’m not here to relay her resume, although it is important to know and remember her enormous legacy, built in the face of doubters and naysayers. Rather, I think it is important to discuss the aftermath of this loss and what exactly it means for this country. For everyone wondering about the best way to honor RBG’s legacy, I have one word: vote. If you are not old enough to vote, then encourage others to vote. I know the term “now more than ever” is becoming trite in today’s partisian political atmosphere, but now, more than ever, is the time to use your voice. Show up to the polls or mail in. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you chose to identify with, if either. The point is to be an active participant in our democracy. If RBG could battle stage four pancreatic cancer while in many ways carrying the gravity of our country’s political future on her shoulders, participating in the election process by simply voting is the least we can do.
A pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, and a long-overdue social movement. The amount of change we are facing as a society is simply unprecedented, and change can be scary. Perhaps you are a freshman at CCA and attempting to first navigate high school while it is online. Or perhaps you are a senior (like me) trying to figure out college choices and applications amidst all of this change and unrest. For all of us, life is challenging right now. It can be terrifying to live in a world full of such change, where grief comes second to fear for the future after the passing of a legend. Regardless of these difficult times, the time is now to continue RBG’s monumental legacy and transfer her passion into our own lives. Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living. After all, it is the least we can do for her.