From the Inside Flap
To ensure a bright future for young people and the society they will inherit, every adult community must take seriously its responsibility to raise young people for lives of virtue We cannot expect our free society to long endure if large portions of its citizenry grow up ill-educated, oblivious, and never acquiring a concern for their responsibilities as American citizens—in short, if they fail to acquire any shred of civic virtue. Yet, says William Damon, at the present time, that is precisely the problem in America—we are failing to meet this obligation for major sectors of our youth. We have created this danger by neglecting to foster the civic virtues that motivate moral responsibility, civic participation, and personal sacrifice for the common good. In Failing Liberty 101, Damon shows that we must proactively prepare young people to live in a free society and to participate in the governance of that society—so that they and the generations after them will continue to enjoy access to all the freedoms that political liberty makes possible.
This book’s message is summed up in four assertions: (1) A free society requires, for it very survival, a citizenry devoted in large part to moral and civic virtue;( 2) When virtue loses its public footing, too few citizens accept the responsibilities necessary for sustaining liberty in that society;( 3) In the United States today, we are failing to pass along essential moral and civic virtues to large segments of our youth;( 4) Unless we rectify this failure by placing a higher priority on educating young Americans for lives of moral and civic virtue, the nation will move away from liberty and toward authoritarianism—inevitably and quickly, perhaps within the space of a generation.
If we understand the links between virtue and liberty with even a fraction of the insights that the founders of our democracy brought to bear on the matter, the author concludes, our responsibilities are clear. We must open our schools, our homes, and our popular culture to expressions of civic virtue that can inform and inspire the best life choices among our young people everywhere.