The world changes quickly these days. I’m certain that the world will change several times during the days separating the writing of this article and its publication. As of now, it is less than two full days since the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and our country has entered into a new kind of turmoil. The loss of Ginsburg was felt especially strongly by our community, and we owe her a debt of gratitude for her contributions to gender equality and her notoriously astute dissents of Supreme Court decisions affecting the people of our country. Ginsburg was nothing if not iconic and her passing calls for solemn reverence and respect by the American people during an especially tumultuous chapter in our history.
Loss is never easy. In losing Ginsburg, we lost an influential and powerful ally, leaving us wondering who could possibly fill the void her passing left behind. Our sadness quickly turned to anger, though, when it was quickly announced that her vacancy would be filled before the upcoming election. Not only is this perhaps the greatest political hypocrisy in our history, the timing was disrespectful and, well, tacky. I was furious that seemingly gleeful politicians jumped at an opportunity to seize more power without allowing us even a full day to mourn our loss.
Anger isn’t easy, either. Many of us don’t like feeling angry because anger can make us feel wild, reckless, and out of control. We see anger as the worst part of ourselves, the part that we constantly need to keep in check. Anger is a “negative” emotion and we spend a lot of time and energy avoiding it.
These ideas about anger aren’t necessarily accurate, though. Sometimes our anger is the part of ourselves that knows we deserve better, that is offended by the way we are being treated. Our anger can be a call to action because anger is a part of us that loves us and wants us to be safe, happy, and healthy.
It’s important to remember this in light of our loss and the inevitable chaos that will ensue in the coming weeks. Anger can be destructive, but it can also be constructive. When I think of Ginsburg and her legacy, I’m reminded that what we can make, we can change. Ginsburg worked within the legal system to expand rights and liberties to the people; she didn’t like what she saw, so she worked to change it. And she succeeded.
We can do the same. Already there is talk of expanding the Supreme Court to better ensure a fair and balanced approach to important issues that will affect millions of Americans. Fund raising records were shattered mere hours after Ginsburg’s death by citizens championing the causes Ginsburg fought for. We’ve already heard several ideas of how to work with this loss to minimize harm to our country’s citizens, and I’m certain more will be added to this conversation in the coming days. There is hope, even if it’s hard to feel it right now.
Hope is not enough, though. To see the changes we want, we must take action. We must vote. We must have difficult conversations. We must use our anger constructively to protect ourselves and our peers. We must recognize that change is possible and act accordingly to create these changes, just like Ginsburg has done for us time and time again. We must honor her legacy by continuing her work.
My hope for all of us is that this moment in history will be a turning point for us and our country. I hope that we can embody Ginsburg’s words to “Fight for the things that you care about it, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” We can do it. We can come together and make the changes we so desperately need right now. All it takes is a little effort from all of us. We can do it. Let’s make Ruth proud.
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.