8 Eternal Life Lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It was with heavy hearts that the world said goodbye to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September – the history-making jurist and lifelong advocate of gender equality, whose life and career have impacted the everyday lives of women not just in America, but all over the world.

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To commemorate her life and outstanding contribution to today’s society, we’ve collected some of her wisest words we should all live by.


  1. On having a real impact.

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

                               -Speaking at Harvard Law School, 2015


  1. On true professionalism.

“I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. If you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself. Something to repair tears in your community. Something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That’s what I think a meaningful life is—living not for oneself, but for one’s community.”

                               – Stanford Memorial Church, 2012

  1. On dissent.

“Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say: “My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way”. But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.”

                              -In an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, 2002

  1. On anger.

“When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”

                            -The New York Times, 2016

“Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.”

Photo: Flickr; Geoff Livingston 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)  
  1. On patience and persistency.

“Generally, change in our society is incremental. Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” 


  1. On the meaning of ‘being a lady’.

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent. Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

                          -In an interview with USA Today, 2009

  1. On feminism.

“Feminism [is the] notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents and not be held back by manmade barriers.”


  1. On ‘having it all’

“I just read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s book. She talked about “we don’t have it all”. Who does? I’ve had it all in the course of my life, but at different times.”

                 -The New York Times, 2015

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