Thursday, November 15, 2012
The Other Wes Moore
From time to time, my school brings in outside speakers. Some of them are fairly impressive people. Some of them are fairly impressive speakers. A few of them are both.
Today, Wes Moore came and spoke.
I wish I could do justice to what he said, but I can't. He spoke without notes for 40 minutes and you could have heard a pin drop. His message was both inspirational and cautionary, which is a phenomenally tough trick to pull off.
He noted that what matters more than anything else in our lives is context. There is not one thing that separates Wes Moore, Rhodes Scholar, from Wes Moore, convicted murderer. It is in fact so many things. Not just education, but expectations. Not just community, but mentors.
I only have one regret and that is that my sons were not there to hear him. They are young and a lot of it would have gone over their heads. I'm sure they would have gotten bored, too.
So maybe the idea isn't that they needed to hear what he had to say, but that I have to live it for them.
There was a story on NPR about the cultural differences between Eastern and Western education. Eastern education is precisely ABOUT the struggle, whereas Western education is about the validation of the result.
Thing One struggles. It seems everyday is a struggle to make the right choices and do the right thing. He's gotten immeasurably better, but he still has times when his choices are not great, and because of his reputation as someone who makes poor choices, he is a magnet for problems.
Clearly, what we need to do as parents is both encourage and challenge him. And what's more, we need to embrace the struggle so that HE can embrace the struggle.
My hope is that having to struggle with so many things at a young age, having had to deal with issues beyond what a little boy should have to deal with, he will grow up to be a man who knows how to embrace the struggle, not just for himself but for others.
In the past few months, I've seen more decency in the boy. And that gives me such great hope. He has always been kind and gentle with younger kids. I hope he is learning to be kind and gentle to everyone.
Because - as Wes Moore said - we are all in this together. We enrich each other or we impoverish each other by the choices we make.
I know the little guy has enriched my life. I hope I can do the same for him.