Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
Blog Number 32
September 21, 2020
A Role Model of Class, Persistence and Justice
Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this week. There are those who celebrate her decisions and those who condemn them but this is not about politics. This blog is about character.
I confess that despite her long and distinguished career I really knew little about her until I saw the movie “On The Basis of Sex” two years ago. I really was impressed by the portrait painted of this amazing woman. She is a role model for all of us.
Justice Ginsburg was born in 1933 to Jewish parents in Brooklyn. Few people prospered in that era and there was tremendous anti-Jewish sentiment in a city that was politically dominated by Christians. She was also female in a world dominated by men. Ruth, however, did not see these as obstacles. She viewed them as bumps to overcome.
After marrying and having a child, she and her husband both enrolled at Harvard Law School. He was a year ahead of her. She, and the few other women at the school were not greeted warmly by many of the other students and faculty. The women were actually told that they were “taking seats away from men.” She persisted.
Tragically, her husband became ill with cancer while still in law school. She sat in on his classes, took her own classes, taught him his classes at night and cared for her child. Can you image? I can’t. She could have played a “victim” and asserted that pursuing a law degree was too much given her circumstances but she did not. She simply worked harder.
In the years to come, Ruth became a strong advocate for women’s rights, arguing several times before the Supreme Court. She had a reputation for always keeping decorum despite instances where she was greatly provoked. As she explained it, her mother always told her to act “like a lady.”
Having class, persistence in overcoming obstacles, and fighting for justice for all are the traits that I admire in her, but often fail to live up to. I believe that these traits are worthy for us as individuals, and the church to be striving toward. Too often we give in to impediments, watch out for ourselves instead of seeking justice for others, and forgetting to act well, as we are role models for others. What a different world we would live in if our churches and all people would strive for these things.
I thank God for the role model he gave us in justice Ginsburg and pray that I, you, and our congregations will draw closer to her example.