In a time when far too many people believe the worst in others, it is refreshing to witness individuals on the opposite ends of the political spectrum who choose to establish a meaningful and positive relationship with each other.
Such is the inspiring example of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
They resisted the temptation, prevalent within Washington’s Beltway, to believe the worst in each other simply because their political philosophies differed. They even grew into fast friends.
In the recently published book Scalia Speaks, a compilation of the late justice’s speeches, Justice Ginsburg paints a very endearing portrait of Scalia in the book’s foreword. She notes that Scalia attacked ideas, not people.
How many of us can honestly say that we judge others by their ideas and not their persona?
Justice Ginsburg reminisces about the justices’ mutual love for opera and the many trips they took together abroad for exchanges with colleagues in the legal profession. Describing Justice Scalia as a well-schooled grammarian and friend, Justice Ginsburg offers this personal observation: Justice Scalia would, on occasion, phone her or stop by her chambers to point out inadvertent errors in the drafts of her court opinions.
By graciously bringing these matters to her attention in private, Justice Scalia prevented the circulation of potentially embarrassing drafts among other justices. While not legally required, such exemplary behavior of Justice Scalia is consistent with that of a mensche.
Why can’t each of us conduct ourselves in such a manner and resist the urge to attack others and instead debate ideas on their own merits? Far too many of us choose to engage in hateful rhetoric on social media under the guise of undermining the political positions of others with whom we disagree.
Yet we only foolishly undercut our own credibility and lose respect of others when we criticize others based merely on party affiliation or on whom we support at the ballot box.
Enough of the incessant juvenile partisan bickering! Let’s put down the social media and emulate the fine examples set forth by Justices Ginsburg and Scalia, acting in a manner worthy of our children’s future.
Nathan M. Jolles