Why did their adult lives differ so much if their childhoods were so similar? Moore writes,
"The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his."Our environments and childhood circumstances play huge roles in how we get to live as adults in this world. I've thought before about what it took for my life to look the way it does today - it certainly wasn't all up to me and my choices. Expectations, though, can be the make-or-break element in a life's journey, as they were in the journeys of two Wes Moores from Baltimore. How expectations form is an interesting question. It leads to a peeling back of layers revealing the household- to society-level cultural influences at play. That leads to questions about how those influences came to be and what can anyone do about them now to create a better future for people.
It's hard to not think about chilling truths and tragedies around Baltimore these past few weeks. I find it completely horrific that someone can suffer a crushed voicebox, broken vertebrae, and nearly-severed spine while in police custody. That's not how arrests are supposed to work. How did Freddie Gray and the six police officers he encountered on April 12, 2015 come to be there and behave in those ways? What expectations did they have of each other and of themselves? How were those expectations imbued on them?
I saw Wes Moore speak at The Big Event in April. Although I had seen him on TV before, I hadn't read his books. His presentation was impressive and meaningful, and I left thinking about the Wes Moores in my life and the Wes Moores all around. You see, I've worked with students who have experienced similar challenges - fatherlessness, poverty, academic struggles. The students from my early years of teaching are adults now, in their early-20's. I don't know what most are up to now, but I know of a couple who left high school and entered the criminal justice system, despite having teachers who went above and beyond in supporting them in elementary school. Through A-OK Mentoring-Tutoring I've more recently worked with a couple of students living in challenging situations. They are surrounded by teachers who believe in them and expect good things of and for them and they attend a school whose leadership believes in the value of community partnerships in creating excellent educational environments. I hope with my whole heart that they continue to be lifted up in support by the adults in their lives. I hope they grow up to be like Wes Moore, the author, not Wes Moore, the lifer.