I'm taking a break from birds for a moment in order to pause and grieve the loss of one of our most intelligent, insightful and, importantly, ethical Supreme Court jurists, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a tremendous role model for so many young women in our country. In fact, she exemplified the importance of role models.
We so desperately need to get back to good people with decent characters and strength in visible positions of leadership. Years ago, I rated corporate bonds for a large rating agency in New York. The energy department was changing and I and another director were put in charge of a new field of ratings that addressed project finance. I won't get into all that boring finance stuff, but basically this new area led to start up companies or fresh subsidiaries with unusual structures meeting with us to discuss the possibility of public debt ratings. There was no history, only projection. We put considerable weight on the qualifications of the CEO. His character, how he led. Because his modeling was critical. It would bleed through the entire company. Respect would enliven morale, disrespect dampen it and lead to loss of top management. When industry changes, and new forms of structure and finance emerge, retaining top management is key to survival. This is true for government, too, even though politics appears to be more of a war nowadays. We need to start seeing the importance of behavior modeling. Bad models, similar to bad management at corporations, bleeds into us. Good models, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lift us up.
The loss of Ginsburg also threatens a critical balance that has always anchored our liberal democracy. A majority Supreme Court that reflects extreme minority views, particularly in regard to civil liberties and the balancing of societal costs--such as environmental protections-- combined with our current erosion of checks and balances, threatens our liberal democracy. We are a republic and, from what I have read, the erosion of liberal democracy will not look like other countries that have drifted towards authoritarianism. We may survive in bubbles of locality at first, but the inevitable corruption and dismantling of our necessary management of societal costs and individual liberties will eventually impact all of us.
Why do I bring all this up? Well, this is what my next novel, DEAD FISH... and What the Blue Jays know is about. Yes, it's light and has quirky characters, but it also addresses this idea--that bad behavior --lying, corruption, win at any cost etc-- will infect all of us like a virus. Some may deny, some behave unethically, some drift into a form of nihilism. Furthermore, our acceptance of extremist, minority positions in our highest court will threaten our democratic foundations and survival. I hope we don't head there. I hope my novel is just a what-if story that makes for an interesting read.
Rest in peach, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Your integrity and insight will be missed.
I like to write about people, animals, dogs. I enjoy ideas, good books about ideas, funny books about ideas, funny people who have ideas, advocates for people who don't have voices to express their ideas, and animals who have ideas we can't understand.