Not long ago I read, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.
Wes Moore grew up poor, fatherless and in a drug decayed neighborhood. So did the other Wes Moore. Wes Moore became a paratrooper, decorated veteran, Rhodes Scholar and White House Fellow. He even spoke at the Democratic national convention hours before Barack Obama accepted the party’s nomination for president. The other Wes Moore is serving life in prison without parole.
Two Wes Moore’s. Both grew up in the same neighborhood within a year of each other, yet, such different lives. Wes Moore concludes: “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”
The Other Wes Moore is worth reading. Though you will be left with more questions than answers. I hoped that such a parallel approach would demonstrate what worked and what didn’t. I desired to see a clinical analysis of two lives side-by-side so that we could somehow find a panacea. Instead, Moore tells his story and in the end, himself wrestles with what really made the difference between these two boys. He says is often asked, “What made the difference?” He responds by saying,
“And the truth is that I don’t know. The answer is elusive. People are so wildly different, and it’s hard to know when genetics or environment or just bad luck is decisive. As I’ve puzzled over the issue, I’ve become convinced that there are some clear and powerful measures that can be taken during this crucial time in a young person’s life. Some of the ones that helped me come to mind, from finding strong mentors to being entrusted with responsibilities that forced me to get serious about my behavior. There is no one thing that leads people to move in one direction or another. I think the best we can do is give our young people a chance to make the best decisions possible b providing them with the information and the tools and the support they need.” (p179)
I’m curious as to what you think makes the difference? Do you have a similar story in your own family? Stay tuned for part two as we consider, “A Tale of Two Michaels.”