In Failing Liberty 101, Damon writes that the future of liberty in the United States is in jeopardy because today’s parents, educators, opinion leaders and public officials are not conveying to America’s youth the importance of civic purpose and love of country. The book documents the increasing signs of apathy, cynicism, and ignorance of the American tradition among many young Americans today. In Failing Liberty, Damon emphasizes that devotion to the American ideals of liberty and democracy is what has always moved U. S. citizens to advance human rights and resist tyranny at home and abroad. Damon shows how this sense of devotion is no longer cultivated in young Americans by the people and institutions responsible for educating them. In many of today’s educational settings, patriotism is set against “global citizenship” as an ideal, to the detriment of civic purpose among today’s young.
A staunch believer in the need for America’s youth to take an interest in civic affairs, Damon argues in Failing Liberty 101 that preparing America’s youth for responsible citizenship in a free society is one of the core obligations for the U. S. adult community. He points out that there are young American servicemen and servicewomen fighting in multiple wars, yet for the first time in this country’s history, the majority of America’s youth is unengaged and unconcerned. What is missing is an appreciation for those who have fought to protect American freedoms over the centuries and gratitude for the precious legacy of liberty that today’s young have inherited. Damon concludes that in order to preserve the freedoms that Americans enjoy, we must make a conscious effort to show America’s youth — by example and through education — the importance of attachment, service, and devotion to the ideals of the American tradition.
Failing Liberty also shows the importance of inspirational notions such as the American Dream — notions now under attack in present-day intellectual circles. The book documents the power of such hopeful ideals to spur achievement and positive development among the young. Failing Liberty 101 calls upon today’s public leaders to once again inspire the civic purpose of young Americans by communicating optimistic visions such as the American Dream, the “land of opportunity,” and the “shining city on a hill;” and once again to encourage young Americans to “ask what you can do for your country.”
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