An embrace wide enough for the whole world

By Sarah E. Reyolds | Aug 03, 2018

I've seen a couple of bio-pics this summer about people I admire: "RBG," about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" about Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers.

At first blush, you might not think these two people would have much in common other than being in the public eye. But I noticed a couple of other things they share: both are (or were) very hard workers, more interested in improving society than winning acclaim for themselves, and full of integrity.

In their own ways, Ginsburg and Rogers are both countercultural figures, despite being deeply enmeshed in our culture. Ginsburg has been dedicated to women's rights, and human rights generally, over the course of a long and illustrious legal career. Rogers was devoted to what might be called the emotional education of young children. He very much wanted them to feel that they were valuable and lovable simply for who they were, and he wanted them to know that they each had something unique to contribute to the world.

Both stand for the value of the individual, as over against social norms, government or the majority culture. In "Neighbor," Rogers says at one point that he felt it important to treat his young viewers as ends in themselves, rather than as consumers. How different from all the cartoons hawking breakfast cereals laden with sugar, toys and other products for parents to buy.

When public pools were segregated in the South -- in 1969 -- Rogers invited the black policeman on "Neighborhood," Officer Clemmons, to take off his shoes and share the cool water in his foot bath. When Ginsburg appeared before Congress for her confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, she spoke candidly and at length about what she considered settled law, as well as about her own previous decisions and legal writing. As to abortion, she didn't mince words. She told the Senate that she read the Court's previous decisions to mean that "the woman decides." The "Ginsburg rule," if there is one, was simply not to discuss how she might rule in future cases before the Court, not to avoid talking about her views on the Constitution or on important legal issues.

Rogers and Ginsburg deserve our admiration because they devoted themselves to serving others who were largely unable to advocate for themselves, and because they were not afraid to speak up for the values they believed in -- the values of an open, civil society.

In these fearful, angry times, the feisty female jurist and the gentle Presbyterian minister are heroes and role models for those rattled by the heartless policies and hostile discourse of the day. They are beacons of decency and integrity for all who desire, and are are willing to work for, a more humane future.

Ginsburg and Rogers show us that, while our institutions may be in peril, we can fight for a society that values and nurtures each of its members and treats everyone with equity. And we can win that fight, if we put our whole hearts into it and let the vision of a more perfect union drive out egotism, bitterness and fear.

At bottom, I believe what these heroes share is love for their fellow human beings; and love, when its embrace opens wide enough for the whole world, is unstoppable.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 05, 2018 16:55

"Ginsburg and Rogers show us that, while our institutions may be in peril, we can fight for a society that values and nurtures each of its members and treats everyone with equity. And we can win that fight, if we put our whole hearts into it and let the vision of a more perfect union drive out egotism, bitterness and fear."   

"At bottom, I believe what these heroes share is love for their fellow human beings; and love, when its embrace opens wide enough for the whole world, is unstoppable." WHOOPIE!!!

We have seen a bit of that locally this weekend.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Aug 05, 2018 16:34

Here's your perfect fit, Edwin.

 

"The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists."

-- Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1951)“



Posted by: Edwin E Ecker | Aug 05, 2018 16:13

Too bad you picked losers instead those that support the Constitution and the rule of law !



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