following ten "lessons" are taken from Edelman's
"Twenty-Five Lessons for Life," in her book The
Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My
Children and Yours.)
is no free lunch. Don't feel entitled to anything
you don't sweat and struggle for.
And help our nation understand that it's not entitled to
world leadership based on the past or on what we say
rather than how well we perform and meet changing world
goals and work quietly and systematically toward them.
We must all try to resist quick-fix, simplistic answers
and easy gains, which often disappear just as quickly as
My Daddy used to ask us whether the teacher had given us
any homework. If we said no, he'd say, "Well,
assign yourself." Don't wait around for your
boss or your co-worker or spouse to direct you to do what
you are able to figure out and do for yourself.
Don't do just as little as you can to get by.
be afraid of taking risks or of being criticized.
An anonymous sage said, "If you don't want to be
criticized don't say anything, do anything, or be
anything." Don't be afraid of failing.
It's the way you learn to do things right.
and help others remember that the fellowship of human
beings is more important than the fellowship of race and
class and gender in a democratic society.
Be decent and fair and insist that others be so in your
presence. Don't tell, laugh at, or in any way
acquiesce to racial, ethnic, religious, or gender jokes or
to practices intended to demean rather than enhance
another human being.
confident that you can make a difference.
Don't get overwhelmed. Sometimes when I get frantic
about all I have to do and spin my wheels, I try to recall
Carlyle's advice: "Our main business is not to
see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies
clearly at hand."
down and live"
is an African song I sing inside my head when I begin
flitting around like a hen with her head wrung off:
"Brother slow down and live, brother slow down and
live, brother slow down and live, you've got a long way to
go. Brothers love one another, brothers love one
another, brothers love one another, you've got a long way
your friends carefully.
Stay out of the fast lane, and ignore the crowd. You
were born God's original. Try not to become
for "the sound of the genuine" within yourself
Meditate and learn to be alone without being lonely.
"Small," Einstein said, "is the number of
them that see with their own eyes and feel with their own
hearts." Try to be one of them.
are in charge of your own attitude--whatever others do or
circumstances you face.
The only person you can control is yourself. Worry
more about your attitude than your aptitude or lineage.
help parents chart a course for their children based
on traditional values--self-reliance, family, hard
work, justice, the pursuit of knowledge and of
brotherhood-- Edelman, founder and president of the
Children's Defense Fund, effectively recounts her
experience and vision in essays variously addressed
to her own children, to all children and to parents.