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The Death of RBG in a Time of Incivility

By now you probably know that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday. 

I don’t line up with all, or probably many, of her ideologies. But what I can absolutely admire and applaud is that she was a woman raised in poverty who didn’t let her beginnings make her a victim. She was a wife who cared for her husband in sickness and still carved out a path for her dreams in health.

She was the mother of a daughter, which means she also packed school lunches and kissed bruised knees and listened to rambling stories about nothing that meant everything. Maybe she too wrestled with the never-ending but not always terrible juggle of work and school events and doctor appointments and project deadlines.

In this time of toxic diatribes and endless division, we can quickly forget that the person on the other side of the issue, the argument, the lawn sign, the political aisle, the screen is….a person. If we set down our phones and looked into their eyes and peeked into their homes, we’d probably realize we have more in common than we think.

Because that person also has dishes to wash, and bills to pay and kids to try and raise in this weird world of distance learning and face-mask wearing. That person probably has insecurities and fears about their future and big questions for which they’re searching for answers. That person might be clawing for a better life or doubting whether they have what it takes to keep the train moving. 

More than anything, that person might desperately need Hope, a reminder that they are Christ-loved and made with a purpose.

We can disagree on beliefs and ideas and still celebrate the person, still applaud that they are made in the Imago Dei. We can engage in robust dialogue while still holding respect for them and the experiences that have shaped their beliefs. We can fight fiercely on opposite sides for the causes that impact us and our communities and still be friends.

In this time where it feels like everything is balanced on a wire and the world is one more crisis away from snapping (or burning down, or getting blown apart by a hurricane) maybe the most radical thing we can do is to humanize the “other” person before we criticize their beliefs. 

To extend grace through our questions rather than anger in our assumptions.

To root ourselves daily in prayer to fight the right Enemy in the real battle.

To care first about showing Jesus before being right. 

I’m writing these things here because I desperately need the reminder, the refocusing of perspective and reordering of priorities. Admittedly, it wasn’t my first instinct to write something about Justice Ginsburg. But I’ve long since been impressed with this little piece of information: Justice Ginsberg and Justice Scalia were notorious for their friendship in spite of their differences in beliefs and legal decisions.

Perhaps we can still find ways to do the same.

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