Last Friday, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, the world lost an icon ~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg z”l. Only the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the first Jewish woman to serve on the court, R.B.G, as she was known in pop culture, leaves behind an immense footprint and no-doubt historical legacy.
Regardless of one’s political stance, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and career were filled with an abundance of lessons we can all utilize in our own lives. One of the most poignant lessons I have learned is the importance of grace, especially in the face of opposition.
A truly meaningful example of this grace was Ginsburg’s relationship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Political opposites, Ginsburg and Scalia disagreed on just about everything. However, despite their opposition, they shared a mutual respect – both professionally and personally.
After her death, I saw an interview clip on YouTube in which Ginsburg said the following of Scalia, “Even when I am on the other side, if I see something in his opinion that I think is not well-stated, I will call him or send him a note ~ just to him, not circulated to everyone else ~ and he does that same thing with my opinions.”
Ginsburg and Scalia held each other in such high esteem that they wanted to ensure the other’s opinion – no matter how opposed to it they were – was communicated in the best way possible. They wanted to help each other succeed, regardless of how differently they viewed the world.
At Scalia’s funeral in 2016, Ginsburg said, “When once asked how we can be friends, given our disagreement on lots of things, Justice Scalia said ‘I attack ideas; I don’t attack people. Some very good people have some very bad ideas. And if you can’t separate the two, you’ve gotta get another day job.’”
This statement speaks a thousand words. How many of us know good people, but who, in our opinion, have bad ideas? How many of us are simply unable to separate the two? How many valuable and enriching relationships are we missing out on because we simply cannot get past our differences?
Ironically, for two people who shared such opposing thoughts, Ginsburg and Scalia leave behind a legacy of embracing others for WHO they are, not WHAT they believe. Is that always going to work? No. Is it something that comes easy? Probably not. However, if we can take this one lesson, and just try to apply it in our lives, imagine the possibilities.
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