Wes Moore talks life, Baltimore childhood
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
One man became a veteran, a Rhodes Scholar and a renowned biographer, while another man from the same neighborhood with the same name is sitting in jail for life for the murder of a police officer.
The tale is detailed in Wes Moore’s best-seller, “The Other Wes Moore” which parallels the lives of two boys from similar financial situations who grew up in Baltimore, one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. Although both came to similar crossroads in their lives, one escaped poverty while the other eventually was sentenced to prison without the possibility of parole.
The book was meant to share his story and that of the other Moore and to show how thin the line actually is between seemingly starkly different lives and situations, Wes Moore said Wednesday night in Mitchell Hall as he discussed the deeper meaning of the novel.
“If you take away from this story, from these ideas, that it’s one good Wes Moore and one bad Wes or what you take away is one good mom and one bad mom or one got sent away and the other one didn’t, I’d argue that you completely missed the point,” Moore said. “In fact, I’d probably argue you didn’t read the book.”
Freshman Jonathan Galarraga said he enjoyed Moore’s talk because he could personally relate to it. A Maryland native and self-described underrepresented minority, Galarraga said he found Moore’s story inspiring with good lessons he will remember for the future.
“Ultimately, we all have to face adversity, but the way he expressed himself and how he lived through-that was really helpful for me introspectively realizing how it can apply to all of us,” Galarraga said.
One of the most compelling conversations Moore had with the other Moore was when he asked him if he thought they were products of their environment, he said. The other Moore looked at him and said he believed they were the products of their expectations. While he was startled by the answer, Moore said he ultimately agreed with the assessment, and believes expectations people have of themselves are born from the expectations others have of them.
Galarrag said the talk made him understand that his work in the honors engineering program will be pertinent to the lives of others, as learning about Moore’s life helped him realize the support he has from his family and how his academic effort will be important to his education and becoming a more fulfilled person.
If parents lay out the foundation for children to have opportunities for higher education and set expectations for them to become productive members of society, then they will do that, Moore said.
“High expectations or low expectations, you will simply either work up to or you will live down to the expectations others have laid out for you,” Moore said.
While Galarraga had never heard Moore’s words before, senior Lynda Pusey said she had, and his story is moving for her since she comes from a similar economic situation.
Pusey said people’s expectations of her in life were influenced by her socioeconomic status.
“I grew up in a poor neighborhood, and the expectations I had for myself were what I got from the teachers who thought I lived in the ghetto, so I wouldn’t go far,” Pusey said. “As I got older, I realized their expectations of me were not what I wanted.”
But Moore’s novel is not meant to condone or give excuses for the other Wes Moore’s crimes, he said he hopes people learn from his and the other Moore’s mistakes. One of the most surprising things he realized after meeting Moore was how similar their situations were and how easily their roles could have reversed, he said.
“The chilling truth is his story could have been mine,” Moore said. “The tragedy is mine could have been his.”