Youth Justice

Hope for the New Year

This is a time to stand and fight for the futures of our children and the soul of our nation with all our might! I am strengthened every morning by reading these words over my kitchen sink — based on a poem first published in 1905 and anonymously adapted over the years. Its bottom line: Never, ever give up fighting for what you believe in.

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think that you dare not, you don’t;
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch that you won’t.If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost;
For out in the world you’ll find
Success begins with a fellow’s will,
It’s all in the state of mind.Full many a race is lost
Ere even a step is run,
And many a coward falls
Ere even his work’s begun.

Think high and your deeds will grow,
Think low and you’ll fall behind.
Think that you can and you will,
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You have to think high to rise,
You have to be sure of yourself
Before you can win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins, is
The fellow who thinks he can.

I also share a prayer of surrender:

O God, Thou knowest that I cannot read, understand, or retain all I think I need to know.
Remember for me and understand for me what I do need to know.O God, Thou knowest I am bone weary and worn down after many years of labor.
Be Thou my strength, energy, and perseverance.O God, Thou knowest that my internal nerve and voice quaver unconfidently amidst all those who speak with unjust certainty.
Be Thou my confidence and clarity and anchor.

O God, Thou knowest how scattered are my thoughts and activities that tire me out and drain my energy.
Be Thou my focus and order my words and steps to meet our children’s needs.

O God, Thou knowest my dreams and hopes for the children of America and of the world and the many child dreams and hopes that violence, homelessness, hunger, poverty, and drugs turn to dust.
Be Thou my and their dreamkeeper and grant them hope and help in our times.

Thank You, God, for hearing my cries as You heard Hagar’s long ago.

You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the challenges and opportunities offered by the present moment and embrace them with courage, faith, and hope. Let’s keep building the nation and world all our children need and deserve.

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Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to

Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post and Mom’s Rising.