Letter: A lesson from RBG — one relationship at a time

Posted 9/24/20

My wife and I attended an appearance by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2018 at Roger Williams University Law School, and I took with me one typewritten question I had drafted for any possible …

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Letter: A lesson from RBG — one relationship at a time

Posted

My wife and I attended an appearance by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2018 at Roger Williams University Law School, and I took with me one typewritten question I had drafted for any possible Q&A.

When I arrived and greeted then Law School Dean Michael Yelnosky, he informed me that questions would be asked only by law school students. “Fine,” I responded, “maybe one student will ask this question,” as I handed him my envelope with a smile.

The question was, “Justice Ginsberg, considering the dear friendship you had with polar-opposite fellow Justice Antonin Scalia, what advice would you give today’s law students to help bridge the divisive gap that now polarizes our country?”

Whether the first student who rose to ask a question got it from the dean — or it was the obvious question to ask — it was the same question I had typed up myself.

Justice Ginsberg’s response was immediate. “Talk to the children,” she said, meaning the young ones, those from 8 to 12. She compared the division phenomenon to the McCarthyism of the 1950s, adding, “This, too, will pass.” It sounded like only time will heal the divide.

While we came away having listened to a most inspiring message from her on how she did — and other women could — overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to succeed in a male dominated legal field, I was disappointed she didn’t have a lesson from her friendship with Nino to help bring us together.

She’s thrown in the towel on this generation, I thought to myself. Does she see no hope? And since then I’ve heard others express similar pessimism for solutions to the divide.

However, reports in the last few days detailing her unlikely friendship leave me new optimism that one friendship at a time, like hers and Noni’s, remains a viable path.

As we pay proper tribute to “Notorious RBG“ this week, let’s keep in mind this friendship and remember her not only by her legal acumen, but also by her affinity and love for someone with polar opposite views.

If we listen closely, there is common middle ground for all of us. Let’s seek it out and cultivate it, one person at a time.

DeWolf Fulton
Bristol

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