Monday, February 21, 2011

"The Measure of Our Success"

I think one of the coolest things about cyber school is being able to learn along side my daughters every day. While I was physically present for my education, mentally, I was not around much. For me, this is a very special gift; a second chance for me to re-discover so many things I did not take the time to retain when I was younger.

I can't tell you how fascinating it is to hear about other people; the lives they led, their families, who they loved, and who loved them. It inspires me beyond words to hear about their legacies and their views of life.

One day, my oldest daughter was working on a unit about ethical appeal. She had to read a passage from "The Measure of Our Success" written by Marian Wright Edelman. I was so thrilled to see my daughter shared the same feelings with me upon completion of the reading. She smiled and told me that it made her want to work even harder on her schoolwork and harp lessons. (I have to confide I have a HUGE fear of what my children will have to deal in their lives if something should happen to me or Rick-after all, everything can be so unpredictable at best; we want to give them all the tools we can to be able to handle anything that challenges them.) I know they are strong, capable young women, but in many ways, today's world is so complicated compared to the past and I want them to be prepared. Enter Marian Wright Edelman. All I can say, is, what perfect timing and wise words for living life the way the good Lord intended. For the sake of keeping this post as short as possible, here is one of the most powerful pieces of literature you can share with any child; and again, THANK YOU, MARIAN!

Taken from "The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours"

Six Lessons for Life

The first lesson is there is no free lunch.... Please don't feel entitled to anything you don't sweat and struggle for. Help our nation understand that it is not entitled to world leadership based on the past or on what we say rather than how well we perform and meet changing world needs....Remember not to be lazy. Do your homework. Pay attention to detail. Take care and pride in your work. Take the initiative in creating your own opportunity and do not wait around for other people to discover you or do you a favor. Don't assume a door is closed; push on it. Don't assume if it was closed yesterday that it is closed today. Don't ever stop learning and improving your mind. If you do, you're going to be left behind.

The second lesson is to assign yourself. My daddy couldn't stand to see us unengaged in constructive work. And he used to ask us when we had come home from school, "Did the teacher give you any homework?" If we'd say no, he'd say, "Well, assign yourself some." Don't wait around for your boss or your friends or teachers to direct you to do what you're able to figure out and do for yourself. And don't do just as little as you can to get by. And as you grow up and become citizens please don't be a political bystander and grumbler. I really hope every one of you will register to vote and vote every time. A democracy is not a spectator sport. And if you see a need, please don't ask, "Why somebody doesn't do something?" Ask "Why don't I do something?" Initiative and persistence are still the non-magic carpets to success for most of us.

The third lesson: Never work just for money. Money alone won't save your soul or build a decent family life or help you sleep at night. We're the richest nation on Earth, with the highest number of imprisoned people in the world. Our drug addictions and child poverty [rates] are among the highest in the industrialized world. So don't ever confuse wealth or fame with character. And don't tolerate or condone moral corruption, whatever it is and whether it is found in high or low places. Be honest and demand that those who represent you be honest. And don't ever confuse morality with legality. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King told us, "everything Hitler did in Nazi Germany was legal, but it was not moral." Don't give anybody the proxy for your conscience.

The fourth lesson: Don't be afraid of taking risks or of being criticized. An anonymous saying is, "If you don't want to be criticized, don't do anything, don't say anything and don't be anything." Don't be afraid of failing; it is the way you learn to do things right. Don't be afraid of falling down; just keep getting up. And don't wait for everybody to come along to get something done. It's always a few people who get things done and keep things going. Our country and our world desperately need more wise and courageous shepherds and fewer sheep who do not borrow from integrity to fund expediency.

Fifth lesson: : Take parenting and family life seriously, and insist that those you work for and who represent you do so....I hope you will stress family rituals and be moral examples for your children, because if you cut corners, they will, too. If you lie, they will, too.....If you tell racial or gender jokes or snicker at them, another generation will pass on the poison that our adult generaton still does not have the courage to stop doing.

Sixth Lesson: "Listen for the sound of the genuine" within yourself. "Small," Einstein said, "is the number of them who see with their own eyes and feel with their own heart." Try to be one of them. There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in [yourself]. And it is the only true guide [you] will ever have. If you cannot hear it in yourself, you will spend all of your life on the end of strings that somebody else pulls. Today, there are just so many noises and so many competing pulls on us. I hope that you'll find ways and times and spaces to be silent to listen to yourselves and to listen for other people.

Last lesson: Never think life is not worth living or that you can't make a difference. Never give up. I don't care how hard it gets, and it will get very hard sometimes. An old proverb says, "When you get to your wit's end, that's where God lives."

I hope you will share this with someone special today. XO Andi

Reprinted with permission from Glencoe Literature, "Reading with Purpose" Copyright 2007 McGraw Hill, Columbus,Ohio

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