Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

I just finished reading this book by Wes Moore.  It's the true story of 2 black kids growing up in Baltimore at the same time, with the same name, and similar background.  However, their life story ends tragically different.  One Wes Moore, the author, is a Rhodes Scholar, military veteran, and worked as a special assistant at the State Department.  The other Wes Moore is serving life in prison for an armed robbery that went very wrong.  Two boys searching for help, trying to find their way, but only one received it.

This book really got me thinking about how two people so similar, even sharing the same name, wind up with such different fates?  Was it fate or the conscience decisions they made?  It seems one had a much better support system of people around him as the author Wes Moore states, "What changed was that I found myself surrounded by people - starting with my mom, grandparents uncles, and aunts, and leading to a string of wonderful role models and mentors - who kept pushing me to see more than what was directly in front of me, to see the boundless possibilities of the wider world and the unexplored possibilities within myself.  People who taught me that no accident of birth - not being black or relatively poor, being from Baltimore or the Bronx or fatherless - would ever define or limit me." 

I've come to realize how true this is in my own life.  I'm typically a positive person who enjoys hanging around other positive and intellectually stimulating people.  Occasionally I meet new people who are not of this nature.  Eventually I notice what a drag it becomes.  Nothing seems to go right, I develop a bad attitude and feel poorly about life in general.  Then I realize what a ball and chain that person has become.  It's so easy to get sucked into this fallen world.

We should all be challenged to maintain positive relationships so that we can be strong and stay the course.   To step up and be helpful for some other struggling person.  I believe God called us all to step outside of our comfort zone and let our light shine.  To be that city on the hill, Matthew 5:14-16.  To mentor that struggling young person, that homeless man on the corner, and that single mom.

Upon reading this book, I started to reflect on things I've done in my life in the hope of helping someone in need.  But maybe it's the time I wasn't consciously trying that actually made the difference.  I think most times we're unaware of the effect we can have on those around us.

And so I challenge you this Christmas season and into the New Year to rise up, set the self serving stressed out hustle and bustle aside.  Make conscious efforts to donate to a food pantry, serve a meal at a soup kitchen, attend a high school sporting event, read a book to an elementary classroom, ring the Salvation Army bell, adopt a family in need, sing praise in the nursing home.

But also think about those unconscious things you say and do every day to your spouse, children, neighbors, church family, co-workers, etc, whether it be the way you carry yourself, your tone of voice, or your body language. You will feel so good as you reach out, submit, and give to that other person.  You can make all the difference in this world, which will make all the difference to your heavenly Father.  And who knows, you just may reach "the other wes moore".

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