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A middle-school guidance counselor offers passionate words of wisdom regarding the profound American need for responsibility, trust and character.

In a collection of short essays, some no longer than a paragraph, Baggett makes the case that in today’s society, the importance of virtuous behavior has diminished in favor of a desire for immediate satisfaction and a tendency to shrug off accountability. A tolerance for all ideologies and a willingness to explain away questionable conduct has become the norm in our current politically correct culture, leading to a dangerous lack of common ethical values. The author argues that respect and self-discipline are the hallmarks of American democracy, and without these principles, the country will experience a moral disintegration. Character education in public schools is imperative to the development of a new generation that knows true freedom does not mean freedom from responsibility. According to Baggett, character depends not only on the nurturing of trust, but also one’s willingness and courage to look deep within to discover faults and weaknesses. Perhaps one of the more intriguing ideas in the book involves culpability; without the feeling of guilt, personal growth and the development of positive character traits may be seriously impaired. Baggett, who tends toward redundancy in his efforts to convince, fortunately makes his work accessible by including memorable stories from his work with young teenagers and presenting exercises that promote self-examination. By quoting famous figures from Albert Einstein to Pogo, the author provides inspiration to readers who wish to tackle the challenge of becoming well-rounded, respectful and powerful citizens. Despite a pledge in the introduction that his Christian beliefs will not seep through the pages, a cranky sort of conservatism–and a generous sampling of scripture–may push more liberal readers away from the book. But the author’s passion for his subject makes for a spirited call for change.

An important manual for those brave enough to face their shortcomings.

ISBN: 978-1-4196-9781-4
Program: Kirkus Indie
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