On Leadership, The Times We Live In
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Lessons Jamie Raskin learned from his father

(NOTE: Charles Ray wrote a blog post about Congressman Jamie Raskin’s father that led me to repost the life lessons here on More to Come. I encourage you to read Ray’s post, as well as Jamie Raskin’s eulogy for his father, Marcus Raskin, which is the source for these lessons.)

We generally see our Congressman, Jamie Raskin, each year at the Takoma Park July 4th parade. We love that parade as one of the best expressions of American values one can find in a region where too many in power have forgotten what the country stands for. Somewhere during the parade, Raskin and a crowd of young supporters will show up, and it is like a windstorm sweeps through the street. Raskin works the crowd like no one else can, shaking every hand he can reach and waving to the ones he cannot touch. In my post about 2019’s parade, I likened him to James Brown when I used the “hardest working man in politics” sobriquet.

Congressman Jamie Raskin (credit: Office of Congressman Raskin)

Raskin is in the news these days because of his stellar work to speak truth to power in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Many people wonder why he was quoting his father in the opening remarks. If you are like me and didn’t know very much about the life and work of Marcus Raskin, I encourage you to read his son’s eulogy, given at Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington when his father passed away at age 83 in 2017.

The eulogy is entitled Lessons I Learned from My Father, and I’ll quote those lessons in the hope that you’ll read the entire eulogy and understand a little bit more about father and son, and the remarkable moral compass that is at the heart of their work.

Lesson One: My father taught us that, when a situation seems hopeless, then you are the hope.  When everything looks dark, you must be the light.

Lesson Two: Spoil children with love and wisdom, not with things.

Lesson Three: Whatever the background noise, follow the music in your head and the dreams in your heart.

Lesson Four: Go to school to teach as well as to learn and never let your schooling interfere with your education.

Lesson Five: Bring your full intelligence and ethics to work every day and if you can’t, you may need to find a new job.

Lesson Six: Hate war and work as citizens for peace and justice.

Lesson Seven: Act pragmatically, not in the degraded sense of doing what powerful people want you to do, but in the Deweyean sense of promoting experiments to advance the ideals of freedom and the common good.

Lesson Eight: Never give up on anyone, never hate anyone, and act with love whenever you can.

Lesson Nine: No good act in life is ever wasted.

Wonderful lessons for living a meaningful and purpose-filled life.

More to come…

DJB

Image: Marcus Raskin

This entry was posted in: On Leadership, The Times We Live In

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I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you, David! Like many, I suppose, I only just learned about Rep. Jamie Raskin from the Trump impeachment. He was absolutely riveting when he spoke. And humble. So few in politics – or anywhere it seems – have the charism of speech! Boy, do we need them; honest ones, not worried about their jobs, but worried about truth!
    Tom

  2. Tom, Good to hear from you. I’ve followed Jamie Raskin for some time. He was in the Maryland State Senate before he went to Congress, and he has always been articulate about how government should treat its citizens. So I wasn’t surprised when he was selected by Speaker Pelosi to head the House impeachment managers. What I had not connected was the history with his father. That eulogy just blew me away. I just read it again and it hits on so many values and life lessons that we need today. You are so right, we need more honest members of Congress who are not so worried about their jobs that they will sell out the country. Take care, DJB

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