Common Reading

Gay McAlister

Most of us have had the opportunity to question and ask “why” or “how” something happened. Wes Moore was challenged by the “why” when he encountered another young man with the same name and similar circumstances (outwardly, at least) but whose life outcome was dramatically different from his own.  When led to search for answers to his question, he found no definitive answers, but much to ponder about choices, circumstances, and decision points.  The search for understanding is directly related if not inherent in Counseling as well as Education—ecologically, systemically, and individually.  The author recalls the importance of role models,   ability, values dearly held—education, personal responsibility, goal-setting, and the community and family support that was displayed repeatedly and consistently throughout his life.

The other Wes Moore, whose family also struggled financially, was absent other, non-material resources that can make the difference and are so critical—role models and mentors, high but realistic expectations, adult supervision,  consequences for decisions, believing in or being a part of something larger than oneself, and consistent parental support and involvement. Ultimately, when he did try to change the trajectory of his life, the temptation proved too much with tragic consequences.

Counselors and their clients often spend considerable time reviewing and considering the circumstances that led to decisions that were life-changing. Some actions occur almost without thought and other decisions, although carefully deliberated, still had unexpected or negative consequences.  This book offers a rich opportunity to view parallel lives and to consider choices made as we analyze them within the context of  contemporary society or our own lives and turning points. The challenge is twofold—to seek the self-understanding that enables us  to make informed decisions and to find ways to reach and help  the “other Wes Moores” so there will be more happy endings. 

~Dr. McAlister is a clinical associate professor and coordinator in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Click here to learn more about her.  

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