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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

For Idealism in Youth

Author(s): Gordon, J.

Citation: Gordon, J. (1989). For Idealism in Youth. Journal of The Freshman Year Experience, 1(2), 105-110.



This essay is a reminiscence of a life-shaping experience from my own freshman year and an attempt to draw certain lessons from that experience for the freshmen of the eighties, for whom the essay was written and to whom it is addressed. I describe a personal discovery I made at the "March on Washington" in 1963, the march in which Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his "I have a dream" speech, and I use this experience as a basis for reflection on the spiritual distance American youth have traveled since that time. The theme of the piece is the need in a fully human life for devotion to the world outside the suffocating boundaries of self-interest: the need for idealistic commitment.


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