Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Role Model to An Evolutionary
By Aliah MaJon, Chief Inclusion Officer for The Shift Network
R. = Risk-Taker
B. = Bold-Player
G. = Game-Changer
When I consider the life and contributions of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I think of her as both a powerful role model to all and a perfect example of what I call an "Evolutionary." It’s common knowledge that Justice Ginsburg made a mark with the role she played on the Supreme Court. So much so, that people started using just her initials to reference her, namely, R.B.G. And, eventually, it became popular for people to refer to her as the "Notorious RBG" when a book with that moniker came out: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik. The idea of Ruth Bader Ginsburg being notorious is a well-deserved title in my opinion!
However, this article is not going to be about the usual biographical information that celebrates her by listing her accomplishments and chronicling her accolades. Instead, I will write about the incredible “role model” that Justice Ruth is to people like me — an Evolutionary — those who have decided, especially at this time, to be bold in our commitment to serve the world as forward-thinking leaders and future builders.
I will offer this message by taking each one of her initials and conveying my ideas about what I feel they stand for. At the top of the page, you have likely already noticed that I’ve assigned the letters R.B.G. to defining words that may be described as nouns or verbs or both, with me making my points by favoring verbs as representatives of “action.” According to Merriam-Webster, a simple definition of a verb is this: A word that shows an action, occurrence, or state of being.
Even though I am someone who enjoys writing and always loved English classes as both a child and as a college student, I could never remember the official parts of speech that we were supposed to learn. My statements in this piece will not be about words, they will be about “actions,” pure and simple. In other words, whether a descriptor represents a verb or not does not really matter to me; what’s important to me is what the word pictures stand for in terms of the mindset that we operate from, the thought put into our strategies, how much courage we have, and, finally, the careful and measured execution of our intentions. These are the things that RBG taught us: how to take action, and move very consciously to our specific goals.
So, let me begin with the letter “R”… RBG, without a doubt, was a “Risk-Taker.”
Why is taking risks important when you are called to be an Evolutionary? My personal response is: Because it is always risky business to do something that has never been done before. That’s what being a change-maker is truly about in my opinion — to set a course for territory that is unknown, because something is calling to you, or because you notice that something is in glaring need of transformation or transmutation.
Every card-carrying Evolutionary is known for being willing to “venture” into an area that has not yet been traversed — or, at least not in the way that we are choosing to act on and bring transformation — regarding a subject or issue or problem. RBG, literally, took countless risks in her career in the area of law. In fact, just being a woman seeking a law degree in her time was seen by some as unattractive, crazy, inappropriate, and a waste of time, since it was thought that practicing law was not a woman’s place. Well, as we all know, that is no longer the general consensus, which RBG and other risk-taking females stepped up to change.
Change-makers allow themselves to go "off the beaten path," for the express purpose of creating new pathways. Almost invariably, when a shift for the better has blessed our lives, our relationships, and our systems — and brought uplift to our communities and needed improvement in our society — it’s because somebody took a risk to make it so. To be an Evolutionary you must become acquainted with, actually friends with, taking risks and being the one to move away from the so-called norms. RBG took many risks regarding equality and parity — and women, in particular, won many victories as a result of her risk-taking.
Next, let’s look at the “B”… Ruth Bader Ginsburg was absolutely a “Bold-Player!”
I oftentimes look up definitions of words for full understanding, and to really take them in. Here’s what dictionary.com said about the word bold in terms of usage:
- not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring.
- not hesitating to break the rules of propriety; forward; impudent.
- necessitating courage and daring; challenging.
- beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.
The Notorious RBG was undeniably bold, but she did it with poise, dignity, and grace. In other words, Justice Ruth was a class act. She was an activist and a change agent without ever resorting to zealotry or fanatical behavior. Which I’m taking notes on, because when we change agents feel passionate about something, we can sometimes let our emotions take over, which may end up sabotaging our effectiveness. RBG almost never lost her cool, and she repeatedly demonstrated that it is important to remain calm and even-tempered no matter what.
Having grown up in the inner city of Detroit, knowing how to “get in your face“ and confront a challenge was second nature to me in the past, but no more. I now see that being a “bold-player” is about stepping forward in a brassy and courageous manner, and not allowing fear to get the best of you. And, being brave is not about having no fear at all, it’s about moving through fear and taking action, in spite of the fear. This is what RBG taught me. Even though none of us could ever be sure whether she felt fearful or not, she must have to some extent in the early days. An Evolutionary is required to be a Bold Player to facilitate the change being sought.
Lastly, we have the “G”… It's obvioius that RBG was a bona fide “Game-Changer.”
What does it mean to be “game-changer” when your goal is to serve as a builder of the future and take on the identity of Evolutionary? It means that one of your primary functions or purposes in life is to introduce new ways of doing things — to be willing to be an innovator, an architect, and a pioneer. I have great resonance with the word "pioneer," so being a game-changer has never been a stretch for me. And, when we look at Justice Ruth, there are a large number of things that she was involved with that changed the game! Ask most women (and a lot of girls) who RGB is, and they can tell you without a moment’s hesitation. Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed the game for women of her particular era and generation, as well as for the women and girls who followed, from her earliest victories until now. And she didn’t stop with women, although one might guess that she had a soul contract to uplift females. Her work and focus on equity was extended to other marginalized groups and various significant issues that brought about noticeable change and transformation. The efforts of game-changers are far-reaching and dramatic, and are oftentimes a sea change in the area that their attention has been placed on. The spirit of evolution and the powerful influence of someone serving as an Evolutionary is just what the word connotes: Growth… Development… Maturation… Expansion… Progress… Advancement… and Renewal.
All the things I've outlined were demonstrated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, either directly or indirectly. She seemed to be a quiet personality, but who she was as an Evolutionary speaks loudly, and will continue to reverberate on behalf of all humanity well into the future.