The death of U.S. Supreme Count Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shocked the country, Even though she battled a number of health issues in recent years, her passing came as a surprise. Appointed by President Clinton in 1993, she had been a consistent voice for equality and women throughout the land hailed her for often leveling the playing field for females.
Accolades from both Democrats and Republicans echoed throughout the country.
It was remarkable to me that after her death Friday night, hundreds and hundreds of citizens gathered in front of the nation’s Supreme Court building to pay their respects, at one point uniting in singing Amazing Grace.
But what really got my attention was her great relationship with the late Justice, Anthony Scalia.
Philosophically they could not have been farther apart. More often than not, their opinions were at opposite ends of the spectrum. However, this did not prevent them from having a genuine respect and admiration for one another. One of their bonds was a great love of opera.
One of her former law clerks talked of how close their relationship was and that Scalia always came to her office to sing Happy Birthday to her.
What a contrast this is in these days when winning is the only thing that seems to matter in politics. Rather than seeking common ground, those on the other side of a political divide must be vilified and conquered. Campaigns are viscous, take no prisoner affairs. Truth is thrown out the window.
And how well I know this to be true. When I ran for a seat on the Montgomery County school board in 2018, my primary opponent’s ENTIRE campaign was to trash me with phone calls and mail. When this is what happens in a local school board race is it any wonder that such lack of tolerance and civility is vastly escalated in bigger campaigns?
Unfortunately the nation lost an outstanding jurist with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Just as it did when Judge Scalia passed away.)
While they passionately disagreed on their interpretations of the law, they did show us a great example of respect and dignity.
Editor’s note: In these very, very weird times, stories such as the one below from The Washington Post are worth their weight in gold:
“Johara Benrahou grabbed a red-white-and-blue blanket, a mask with dinosaur designs and three books as she ran outside the front door of her home in Denver.
A few feet away in her front yard, Johara set the blanket down on the grass to prepare for her first reading session of the fall. Soon, three of her friends joined her on the blanket as Johara read aloud “Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo!,” by Dr. Seuss, and other children books.
Without in-person school because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Johara sought to teach and engage children while being safe. The 8-year-old’s solution was a small reading program that would occur twice per week in her front yard.
“I was getting really emotional when I heard I wasn’t going back to school,” said Johara, a third-grader at Cory Elementary in Denver. “I was wondering whether I could start a nonprofit to help other kids go through this, because I think they would be feeling the same way. If a third-grader would feel that way, I would think a kindergartner or preschooler would feel the same way.”
In early-August, Johara received news she wouldn’t return to her public school until October at the earliest. She sat in her bed crying and slammed toys on the floor. She had been craving social interaction while stuck in her house during the coronavirus pandemic, and she has always loved school.
Her mother, Leigh, sat down with her daughter to discuss how other children missing school have worse home environments, such as not owning a laptop or having numerous family members living with them — and that they will also suffer. Leigh Benrahou asked Johara how she wanted to help.
Johara decided she wanted to be a tutor, and after more discussions, the idea holding reading sessions with other children emerged.
Right away, Johara sat at her desk with colored pencils and created a flier for her reading sessions. She listed her address, that the sessions would occur Mondays and Wednesdays between 4 and 4:30 p.m., that masks would be required and that only five children were permitted to attend each session.
A message on the flier read: “My name is JOHARA. I love little kids, I am in 3rd grade and I am 8. My inspiration for this program is to help kids have something to look forward to. I really want to go back to school but as we all know, we can’t. I hope this can help all of us feel more connected.” She asked her mom to make 50 copies and post about the program on Facebook.
The next day, Benrahou drove Johara down their street. Johara searched for bikes or toys in front yards as an indication children lived there. When she saw some, she taped a flier on that family’s front door. The program is intended for children between 3 and 6 years old. She hopes to continue the sessions after the pandemic passes.
“When she found out that she wasn’t going to school, honestly it was like seeing a person for the first time experience desperation or grief or sadness,” Benrahou said. “We’ve all experienced it, but at 8 years old, these kids, the worst they’ve ever been told was you can’t have a toy, you can’t have a snack. At this age, they’re old enough to realize that this is a real loss for them and an impact on their lives.”
Johara’s reading sessions provide Juan a chance for hands-on learning.
“My kid never wants to leave. He could listen to in-person stories forever,” Tammy Alvarado said. “But if you try and put him in front of a computer to do that story, forget it.”
Johara has always loved reading. She grew up enjoying bedtime stories, and she often reads books about famous women and minorities, such as American civil rights activist Ruby Bridges and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. One day, when Johara stayed home from school sick, she read four biographies.
She has also always thought of helping others. Instead of asking for gifts from friends for birthday parties, she asks if they can instead donate books. At her request, she and her mother have visited and donated food to homeless shelters.
That’s why Benrahou thinks her daughter will make a difference when she grows up, working in social justice or a similar field.
“Kids naturally want to be kind, and that’s how we are as human beings,” Benrahou said. “We all get away from that because we get into our self-interest of working or what we need to do. Most kids, they want to help and they want to be helpful and they want to make people happy.”
The circumstances that lead to the phone call are incidental. Suffice it to say that the female on the other end of the line lives in Montgomery, is in her 70’s and like me, is Caucasian
We were doing the usual “who’s your mama and ’em” when she wanted to know if I was voting for Trump or Biden..
“Biden,” I told her.
She went off like a Roman candle. Immediately questioning my manhood, patriotism, heritage and God knows what else. Suddenly I was a 2nd class citizen, unfit to even cast a ballot.
She told me that masks worn for protection during the pandemic were worthless, that most deaths attributed to Covid-19 were from something else and that all she watched was Fox News. (Which explained a lot to me.)
I told her that grandpa fought in WWI and daddy was in WWII and that I was not a draft dodger like Trump. She did not want to hear any of it. According to her, Biden is a socialist and that “black” woman will be running everything if he is elected. I was jolted by her total lack of tolerance or civility. I was the only “white” person she knew who was not voting for Trump..
I told her that if she wanted to vote for Trump, fine. That this is a free country and therefore we can vote for whomever we wish. Which includes me.
No doubt there are Biden supporters who are just as vocal and obnoxious as she was. People who have forgotten what civility is and what it encompasses.
They are just as disturbing as she was.
Auburn University and the University of Alabama will play football against each other on Nov. 28. It is an intense, storied rivalry, some say the fieriest of any in college football. Young athletes will spare no effort to best the other team that day. But watch what happens as soon as the game ends. Men from both sides will shake hands afterwards, they will hug one another, share a laugh. They are both civil toward and respectful of one another.
It’s an example a great majority of our citizens should follow.
Before Sept. 12, the last wedding I recall attending was my son’s in the fall of 2006. But on Sept. 12, 2020 I came out of “retirement” to be there when Lauren Donaldson of Opp married Bill Paulk of Lowndes County. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
For reasons none of us can really explain, as we travel this life’s journey we occasionally come across people we become attached to. That’s Lauren. As best I can tell, she was 10 years old when I met her, younger brother Timothy and mother Kay. She was full of life and always at the center of something she and her friends schemed up. Back then she was mostly arms, legs and blond hair. She was not athletic. Soccer was not her thing..
However, she was smart, full of energy and often the leader of the pack.
She decided to run for president of her class in the 8th grade. A friend of hers also chose to run. Lauren’s reaction, “Let the games begin.” She and her buddies went all out on her campaign. The final vote was not close.
At some point during that year she called the school system superintendent and told him that she had an “issue” she wanted to talk to him about. So he arranged to see her. Turns out her “issue” was a proposal that they have school four days a week, instead of five. She did her homework and made her presentation.
And though the superintendent did not agree to go along with her, he told her mother (who was a teacher) that she made quite an impression.
She finished at Opp high school, then the University of South Alabama, then Cumberland School of Law. She is an attorney in Dothan and my little buddy of 10 is now 32.
She was a beautiful bride. Still tall. Still blonde.
The wedding was at the Oaks Plantation, east of Montgomery at Pike Road. It was outside at noon. It is said that sunshine is good for helping you have vitamin C. If so, a lot of people became healthier at the service. I felt for those wearing coats and ties. (I was not one of them, though neither did I wear coveralls as I often do.)
This event has consumed Lauren’s life for months. (Too bad folks in Washington didn’t devote the same attention to defeating Covid-19).
Now it is over. And Lauren is beginning life as Mrs. Bill Paulk. But to me she will always be my middle school buddy and thoughts of those days will always bring a smile.
Editor’s note: Like it or not, one of the realities of today’s world are passwords. If you are like me, it is easy to get lost in the world of creating passwords. So when I came across the chart below, wanted to share it in hope it might give you some guidance.