When Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was writing the majority opinion striking down the Virginia Military Academy’s ban on admitting women, Associate Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia showed her his scathing dissent which she described it as being “a zinger, filled with distaining footnotes.” She later wrote how much she appreciated his critique of her point of view as it helped her improve her final draft.
In the heat of the political madness, the oasis of perspective provided by the stories of how these Justices shared their love of Opera, wine, and intellect sets an example of how reaching across the table (or better yet, asking for someone to pass something down the table) may help allay some of our angst about living with people with different and opposing opinions.
After all, one of the keys to being resilient is to avoid or at least mitigate adverse and stressful situations before they appear. Connecting with people in a personal way will help to better understand their thoughts and ideas.
In an interview with Scalia’s son, Chris, he shared the story about how his dad had purchased 2 dozen roses for his “friend Ruth” on the occasion of her birthday. He was jokingly questioned by a colleague about why he would be so nice to her since she had never sided with him on any opinion. Justice Scalia responded that “some things are more important than votes.” While many of us might disagree with that in today’s political climate, we can hopefully agree that perhaps we don’t have to lose our friendships over it.
© Richard Citrin 2020