Tonight (Sept. 19) has been hard. Tonight has been inexplicably hard. To see my friends feel such a loss for the world. To lose a willingness to go on and fight hurts me. Not because I am disappointed, but because I feel the same way. I feel like ankle weights were just strapped to the heels of our democracy just as we were asked to swim.
The torrents of emotionless politics, and not only the lack of progress but the willingness to go backward against progress is abhorrent. What is the use in learning and growing, and fighting for what is right when everything we fought for, what she fought for, can be broken down and destroyed?
To fight every day against a regime that is not designed for you and believing that she could win. And winning. That’s what she did damnit.
That is something I will never understand, that is a struggle I will never have to face. A struggle so many thought they would never have to face.
She paved the way so no one would have to face the struggles she did. Yet, our heroes aren’t gods who live forever. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is simply a woman. Yet, every man and woman of every creed who weeps tonight at her passing will immortalize her.
She led America forward on a path towards correction. America was never supposed to be designed for white men. That may in fact be what some founders and citizens believed, but they were wrong.
America was always designed to be a beacon of hope and progress; to be a beacon to the world. For many of us, we have felt that beacon dimmed or may have even gone out these past four years. We must never forget who continued shining bright. Who continued to be a beacon to every young woman facing sexism. Who continued to be a beacon to every member of the LGBTQ+ community that their rights mattered just as much as anyone else.
To all American’s who feared, she was the light that let us soldier on. Even to those who didn’t know it was her, she was there. Shining.
That light has gone out this hollow night. To those who followed that wayward light and those who used it unknowingly; we are facing darkness.
We are facing a point in our lives where everything feels like a perfect storm of chaos, darkness and endings.
Refuse. Reject. Rebel. Fight. Protest. Write. Speak. Scream. Use your light.
One very powerful light has gone out, yet it is our task, nay, our duty to take what she has shown us and fight and claw and battle.
I have no doubt many Americans felt the same when Washington or Lincoln or Roosevelt fell. How can you pick up the torch of someone that great? What can you do to fight for that legacy? There is no answer except, you must. You must pick up the torch, while it may be heavy let us share that weight, my brothers and sisters, and while we may not know the path let us find it together, my brothers and sisters.
There is nothing, nothing we cannot do. We shall pick up her torch. We shall pick up the torch of John Lewis. We shall pick up the torch of John Glenn. We shall pick up the torch of MLK. We shall pick up the torch of Sojourner Truth. We shall pick up the torch of FDR. We shall pick up the torch of Susan B. Anthony. We shall pick up the torch of Lincoln. We shall pick up the torch of Fredrick Douglass, and we shall carry their torches and we shall carry our torches until the sky is on fire, and we shall never be satisfied. We shall not let this diminish us. We shall not let this vanquish us. We shall not let this conquer us. We shall grieve.
But tomorrow, we pick up that torch and we fight.
Joe Bjorkman is a resident of Galena and a recent graduate of Olentangy Berlin High School. He is currently a freshman at The James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University, where he is majoring in social relations and policy and minoring in political economy.