March 15: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 84th birthday. To mark the occasion, I give you–you, dear reader, not RBG, who does not read my blog!–an audio file that I think will make you smile.
Let me set up the clip: It’s from last month, February 6, in Palo Alto, California. Justice Ginsburg had just given Stanford University’s “Rathbun Lecture on a Meaningful Life” and sat for an interview with the event’s host, The Rev. Professor Jane Shaw. (See photo below.) Now she was into a question-and-answer session with students in the audience.
Previously, Justice Ginsburg had shared advice she had received years before from her mother-in-law about how to have a happy marriage: “It pays, sometimes, to be a little deaf.” This has long been a staple of RBG’s talks and interviews–when someone says something unkind, whether in marriage or at the Supreme Court or in life, don’t respond in anger. Act as if the unkind words weren’t said. Now a Stanford freshman named Sasha had a question about this advice: How do you balance this choice to be deaf to unkindness with the need to speak out against things that seem wrong?
I’ve heard and read RBG repeat this it-pays-to-be-a-little-deaf chestnut many times. But I’d never heard the answer she gave at Stanford. Justice Ginsburg tells a fine, funny, surprising story, and if you stop listening before you hear the words “sexist pig” come out of her mouth–you have stopped too soon. Take a minute and 20 seconds and enjoy.
Happy birthday, Ruth Bader Ginsburg!
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