Reflection Masthead
Issue 176 - RBG - June 2018
A friend suggested we go together to see 
the documentary movie about the life and career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court. Wow - are we glad we did! It is an impressive movie, about a truly impressive life. We share our reflections here. 
Pioneering Women
          I think of my Aunt Pat as being a pioneering woman. You knew when she entered the room. She was always proper and socially correct. Petite and demure, she nevertheless was the matriarch of the family - she, the middle child girl among 4 brothers. She fondly and frequently told the story of the family, her parents and siblings, camping by their covered wagon under the "Big Oak" tree in Pleasanton on their way to settle in South Texas. She lived in Kingsville and counted the pioneering King and Kleberg women (of the King Ranch family) among her friends.
          Ruth Bader Ginsberg's size is not the only resemblance to my Aunt Pat. RBG's social correctness never masked her strong values, even when dissenting from the popular politics of the day. Her political views, especially on gender equality, stood sturdy like a deep-rooted Live Oak tree in a South Texas wind storm. Her social life, notably her love of opera, balanced her mighty impact in the legal field. Mighty in many ways; her 20 full push-ups 3 times a week at age 84 are impressive.
          The RBG documentary movie reads like a good novel, almost unbelievable at times, respectfully chronicling her life: her education, profession as an attorney and Supreme Court Justice, and a pioneering woman in fields where women had not dared to tread. A popular online article " How to Dissent like RBG" could give clues on the subject but I believe Ginsberg stands alone and is inimitable when it comes to using one's pioneering power to bring real change to a long-time abusive system. Gender equality is only one of the fights for which she will be remembered. Another is that closing image in the movie where this petite, but mighty woman, is pictured dwarf-like in the line of her male Supreme Court colleagues. Petite but mighty.  --Jan

*Photo source: Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain

Remarkable Relationships, Remarkable Life  
RBG is an inspirational, educational, and surprisingly entertaining movie. It is about gender discrimination and the struggle for equal rights. It is about justice and the law. It is a story about grand themes and noble causes. But it is also about friendships and love and family.
Ruth Bader met Martin Ginsburg in college; they married as soon as she graduated and celebrated their 56th anniversary shortly before his death. By all accounts, it was a deeply loving relationship. Together, they raised two children and nursed each other through bouts with cancer. Martin Ginsburg, a respected attorney himself, fully supported Ruth's career. In the movie, she tells how, after her appointment to the federal court in Washington, D.C., someone sympathized with her about how hard it must be for her to have to commute from New York City where Marty had his law practice - not realizing that both had moved to Washington, and Marty was the one who commuted back and forth to New York!
There are several scenes showing Justice Ginsburg with a granddaughter; the affection of the young woman for her grandmother is obvious. When Ginsburg's children were interviewed, they recalled a loving home, despite their parents' busy careers. (Although they vociferously confirmed all the rumors about Ruth's shortcomings as a cook! Lucky for them, Marty was the regular cook in the household.)
And then, of course, there was the remarkable friendship of Justice Ginsburg with fellow Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Starkly opposed in their judicial points of view, they often found themselves writing dissenting opinions to what the other had argued. Still, they remained good friends until his death, enjoying the opera and meals together. In a clip from a joint interview shown in the film, Scalia says of Ginsburg, with a broad smile, "What's not to like about her? Other than the fact that she's so often wrong!" while Ginsburg bursts out laughing in response. What a wondrous reminder, given our current political climate, that it is possible to disagree - even vigorously - without being disagreeable.
I learned much from the film, especially about Ginsburg's early, precedent-setting work as head of the Women's Rights Project of the ACLU. But my lasting impression is of the rich, supportive, loving relationships that helped shape a remarkable life.
                                                                                       - Bill

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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries