We were making jokes in my kitchen when we heard the news. We saw the news roll in, gasped as we saw the back and forth on Twitter. We watched the outpouring of love begin, as Vote Save America raised more than $10 million in just a few hours, and as everyone panicked trying understand the scope of this change and what it means for us all.
This morning I’m watching RBG for the first time and in a clip from an interview on 60 Minutes, Justice Ginsberg asks a simple question: in 1776 who are “We the People”? And, after a beat: “I would not be included,” she says.
I’ve never thought about that before, about how there are those like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who see the Constitution as this fount of optimism despite sexism and racism, pure injustice, being underlined in plain English. Despite that, because of that injustice in fact, Justice Ginsberg saw the Constitution as a document designed to be improved, always half-finished. How “We the People” must be expanded until everyone, and in equal measure, is included under that umbrella. She saw the way in which government could be a source for good, although at the same time being this vast and broken system. But!—crucially—one that’s possible to change.
Justice Ginsberg was a testament to that optimism, that single-minded focus and all-consuming attention that vast change requires. “Fight for the things you care about...” Ginsberg once said “...but do it in a way that that will lead others to join you.”
And so watching RBG this morning I realize that being optimistic or hopeful is not the same as being naive.