Sometimes it takes losing something to thoroughly comprehend its full weight and importance. Ruth Bader Ginsberg has ‘always been there’ in my adult life.

She, single-handedly made the world a much better place for women. And, men. Championing equal protection under the law for EVERYONE. 

“She ‘Worked the System’”

RBG Legacy:

Ok, she sneakily used the dominant, privileged male to garner rights for women; but men benefited as well. Ruth summarily ‘Worked the System’. We all know her story by now… one of eight women law students at Harvard, graduated at the top of her class from Columbia, couldn’t land a job (she had a vagina), etc…. The wonder in all of this is she made due with what was available to her and excelled. 

While she couldn’t practice law, she could teach others. (It’s ok to be a teacher if you’re a girl). I won’t bore you with those details either; nor, how she rose to be the first tenured female professor at Columbia. She ‘Worked the System’.

The Worst Of 2020:

“What is going to happen to all our, relatively new, equal protection now that our fierce protector is gone?”

Not going to lie, when my Apple Watch alerted me to RBG’s death Friday evening, I lost it. Tears swelled in my eyes. I thought: ‘We’re screwed’. For a few days I felt defeated, downtrodden – a little hopeless. What is going to happen to all our, relatively new, equal protection now that our fierce protector is gone? 

This felt worse than COVID, worse than the tragic death of George Floyd, worse than the crazy unemployment rate. After all, we will eventually have a vaccine; long overdue attention for, and an awakening of Black Lives Matter gives me hope that we can improve on our current racial issues; and employment will rise again. What makes RGB’s death feel more ominous than any of the other absurdities of 2020, is just how easy it will be to hit the ‘undo’ button on her 40+ year legacy. 

We all know she was fighting like hell to stay alive. Who at 87 signs up for painful, invasive cancer treatments? Someone who desperately is trying to protect her legacy and our welfare. Even at the very end she was thinking of us, requesting that no new nominee be named until after the election.

Change My Name To Ruth:

“we all need to change our name to Ruth”

And, this is when I realized, we all need to change our name to Ruth. No, I am not suggesting we flood the postal service with name change forms. Let’s leave them to handle the mail-in ballots, shall we? I mean we all need to pick up the baton she carried on our behalf and continue the race. As Ruth herself proclaimed: “ Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

While she’s done taking physical steps, her specter is very much alive and a reminder to us all to ‘Work the System.’ We can’t give up. We can’t resign ourselves to the notion that we may lose civil liberties. Ruth didn’t. While tiny, 5’1, 110 pounds soaking wet, Ruth apparently had very big shoes. A powerhouse, she relentlessly worked the system on our behalf all by herself. Now that she’s gone, I propose we call upon a country of Ruths to fill her shoes. Together, we can keep on the path she started; taking one step at a time towards that enduring change.

About the Author:

Jacqueline (Jack) Perez champions change, redefining modern midlife for women through curated content and women-driven brands. Checkout Kuel Life where you can Share, learn, shop, and play with our Second Act Sisters! Subscribe to the weekly Kuel Life Newsletter for hot topics delivered directly to your inbox.