Common Reading

Ethical Issues

Think. Explore. Discuss.


The Common Bond of Humanity

While on his study abroad trip to South Africa, Wes came to the following realization: “The common bond of humanity and decency that we share is stronger than any conflict, any adversity, any challenge. Fighting for your convictions is important but fighting peace is paramount.” Think about his statements and further discuss your own understanding and conclusion.

Privileges and Opportunities

After landing admission at John Hopkins University with the help of an insider who had gotten to know him on a personal level, Wes made these remarks: “So many opportunities in this country are apportioned in this arbitrary and miserly way, distributed to those who already have the benefit of a privileged legacy.” What personal examples can you offer to either validate or invalidate his statements?

The Environment

Do you think we’re all just products of our environment?” The author posed this question to Wes who answered by saying that we are all products of others’ expectations that we take on as our own." What do you think we are all products of? If we discover that we are products of our environments or others' expectations of us, then do we as individuals bear any responsibility on how our lives turn out?

The Role of Fathers

Both men grew up fatherless. Moore’s father, a radio and television journalist, died at the age of 34 when the author was just three and living in Southern Maryland. The other Wes Moore never had his father in his life. Do you think growing up with their perspective fathers would have changed their lifestyles for either the better or worse?  

The Role of Mothers

Both men were raised by single mothers, but both obviously end up with two completely different fates. What similarities and differences do you notice between the ways each of the mothers’ raised their sons and what role if any do you think these similarities or differences played in their lives?  

The Role of Hip-hop

Wes Moore acknowledges the importance of hip-hop in his generation by saying, “I found in hip-hop the sound of my generation talking to itself, working through the fears and anxieties and inchoate dreams—of wealth or power or revolution or success—we all shared. It broadcast an exaggerated version of our complicated interior lives to the world.” Do you think hip-hop plays the same role today? If not, what type of impact does hip-hop have in today's society?

 The Military

When Wes’s mother realized that her son was placed on academic and disciplinary prohibition from school, she made the decision to “intervene” and send him to the military. What do you think about using the military as a solution or alternative for young men and women who may be experiencing difficulties in the classroom?

We want to hear your thoughts and opinions on any and all of these ethical issues! We encourage you to leave comments, pose questions and further discuss these issues on our blog!

 If you are interested in gaining practical experience on some of the moral and ethical issues discussed in the book, Consider volunteering with some of the organizations working to address these issues.
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