When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou A refelction

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

by Maya Angelou

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020, at her home in Washington, D.C.,

“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Roberts said in a statement. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Ginsburg laid in state in the Capitol on September 25. She will be the first woman and second Supreme Court Justice to have this honor. Ginsburg also laid in repose at the Supreme Court on September 23 and 24.

Thousands gathered outside the Supreme Court, waiting in line for nearly half a mile to pay their respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In the hours after her passing, Democrats and Republicans hailed her public service and example.

Beyond the Beltway, a poll conducted a few days before Ginsburg’s death revealed that she was more widely known than Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and 44 percent of respondents gave her a favorable rating compared to 28 percent for Roberts.

Ruth was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death. and during her life time fought for equality and justice especially in gender equality. 

Ginsburg was a cultural icon, her image reproduced on millions of T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags and socks? Americans typically have little knowledge about politics, and deep distrust of government institutions and leaders. As political theorists, we believe that the political philosophy of virtue ethics, stretching back to ancient Greece and embracing Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, helps explain why people admire Ginsburg’s personal attributes as much as her accomplishments.

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks” Ginsburg said these words and made them famous but she was actually  quoting the words of Sarah Moore Grimké, a 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights activist:

My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.
I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling.
Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.
 * * * * * * * * * *
And this week in Australia we have lost a great warrior of social justice and feminine equality and work against discrimination in the sudden death of Susan Ryan

Vale Susan Ryan. A trailblazing woman in our Australian  parliament and in public life.

The first female minister in a Labor government in 1983, yes remarkably so late, holding several portfolios in the Hawke government.

We owe the Sex Discrimination Act to her determination, and she later served as

the first age discrimination commissioner, and so much more.

From Penny Wong: Susan Ryan. Champion of equality, courageous feminist and steadfast trailblazer. All Labor women are part of your legacy and we are determined to advance it’.