“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life.” – Congressman John Lewis
We lost two of our biggest champions in 2020. Civil rights icon John Lewis. Women’s rights icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These towering figures were warriors for justice and equality. They changed our country irrevocably. It’s up to us to carry on the fight.
Everybody can play a part. John Lewis famously called it “good trouble.” As we enter the most contentious election season in U.S. history, getting – and staying – in good trouble is more important than ever.
What does it mean? It means we get out there, we register to vote, and we vote. It means we don’t lose hope if the candidates aren’t perfect. There’s never going to be a perfect candidate.
As a society, we’re too caught up on like. On giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down. But sitting on the sidelines is not the answer. If we want sustainable change, we must vote. We must abandon the idea of perfection and vote for someone who will do what needs to be done. Voting is a precious right. Voter suppression is an existential threat. We must register to vote, ask to vote, fight to vote.
Getting in good trouble means we speak out. If we don’t use our voice, we’ll quickly find we don’t have a voice. Speak out for what you believe in – women’s issues, voter’s rights, the right to work, equal pay, reproductive rights. It’s all important. And it’s all on the line.
Getting in good trouble means we take risks. Ruth Bader Ginsburg made it look easy, but it wasn’t easy to be a woman of her caliber and get to the highest court in the United States. John Lewis risked his life every day fighting for racial justice. Images of his beating at Selma shocked the nation and led to swift passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He was later called the conscience of the Congress.
In 2020, all the curtains have been pulled back and it’s clear we’re not where we need to be. COVID-19 has killed more than 200,000 Americans, and the virus is not going anywhere. People are suffering and dying. Businesses are shuttering. People are losing their jobs. Mothers and fathers are struggling to make ends meet, feed their families, and teach their children.
Things may look bleak, but we can find hope in the words of John Lewis, which resonate more strongly than ever. “Do not get lost in a sea of despair,” he said. “Be hopeful. Be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never be afraid to make some good noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”