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The Other Wes Moore: The Impact of Family

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The Other Wes Moore: The Impact of Family
Many people would say we are all just products of our environment. For two young boys from Baltimore, this could not be truer. In “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates,” written by Wes Moore, two fatherless, young boys growing up in the same neighborhood with the same name, end up on two entirely different paths of life. The author becomes a Rhodes Scholar, college graduate, veteran, and much more, while the “other” Wes gets deeply involved with the drug game and spends most of his life in trouble with the law. When these boys come from such similar backgrounds, how is it that they take such different journeys in life? The reason why one Wes Moore became mixed up with drugs and the law, and why one became successful, is because of the family each grew up with. The expectations that each family held their Wes to set the tone for the way each would live the rest of his life.

The author’s mother sacrificed what she had to in order to make sure her son wouldn’t become involved with drugs, while the “other” Wes’s mother told him not to, but she was in fact using drugs. They each grew up without a father, but for different reasons. Wes’s father, peace-loving with a stable career, died when Wes was just three, while the “other” Wes’s father, who was alive and well, chose not to be a part of his son’s life. Wes’s parents made a positive environment for their son, while the “other” Wes’s parents left him to suffer in the environment he was born into. The amount of expectations each family put on their Wes was, in turn, the amount of expectations each Wes had for his future self.

The actions of each Wes’s mother played a large part in their lives. The author, Wes’s, mother, Joy, was very ambitious and finished college (Moore 8-9). She raised all of her children together, and she worked multiple jobs to send all of her children to private school (Moore 48). When Wes started to fall behind in his classes, she decided to send him to military school (Moore 87). This is where the difference between the two Wes’s mothers is prominent. The “other Wes’s mother, Mary, never finished college, and her older son lived with his dad (Moore 18, 26). She wasn’t as concerned with how her son did in school, but when he failed 6th grade and had to repeat it, she decided to move her family to Baltimore County (Moore 57). Just before that, Wes found her “stash” of marijuana in her closet, and after smoking it, made the decision to start selling it (Moore 59-62). Where Joy made every effort to keep her son out of the drug business, Mary was directly related to her son getting involved with drugs. She made them available to him, and was the source of his first drugs. She is the reason he chose to start selling drugs. Their mothers led by example, which in turn, directed them onto the life paths they took.

Their fathers also affected their lives in the same way as their mothers. Wes’s father, Wes, was a strong, peaceful man who had a stable career. He passed away when Wes was three, leaving Joy with their three children (Moore 15). He still had a positive impact on Wes’s life, though. He was a positive role model for Wes even after his passing. The “other” Wes didn’t have it quite as well, however. His father, Bernard, was still alive and well, but left Wes with Mary, and didn’t care to have a relationship with his son. One of the few times Wes interacted with his father was when he went to his Mamie’s house. His Mamie was his father’s mother, and his father just happened to be drunk and passed out on the couch at her house (Moore 23-25). Wes was seven when he met his father for the first time. The difference in involvement between their fathers also plays a part in their future self-expectations. Wes was successful, and therefore his son wanted to be successful. Bernard was no example of a father figure to Wes. During his first encounter with his son, he was drunk and sleeping on his mother’s couch. Tony, Wes’s brother, was more of a father figure for Wes than Bernard could ever hope to be. He was always there trying to help Wes, but he was as much of a hypocrite as Mary was. He set a terrible example by being involved in the drug trade.

Their parents set the expectations for their lives, which is why one Wes was successful and the other was a criminal. Wes’s parents held him to higher standards than the “other” Wes’s parents did. Joy and Wes were both college graduates who had steady careers. They were ambitious people, and that can be seen in the way they raised Wes. He has graduated college, travelled, and worked in some of the most interesting places. That is because he had an idea of how to live life from the example his parents set. The “other” Wes’s parents set him up for failure. Mary did drugs, making herself a hypocrite that Wes wouldn’t listen to. Bernard didn’t even care enough to make himself a part of Wes’s life. Wes was surrounded by a mother who did drugs, a drunken father, and a brother who was involved in the drug business already. Wes had hardly any chance of succeeding in life.

Each of the boys’ family situations had a massive impact on who they each became in the future. Wes, who had positive role models, became a successful citizen, whereas Wes, who had drugged and drunken parents, became a criminal. The environment in which we are raised has a big impact on our future, but it has been made evident that the family situation in which we grow up in also influences our future, somewhat more than our environment. In “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates,” each Wes came from the same environment, but now leads a completely opposite life from the other Wes due to their families influences on them.

The institutions of family and clientage (where the client (poor) used to work for a patron to get protection and support) and the patrician and plebeian classes were amazingly considerable in the early Roman Republic. The foundation of such classes and institutions made everyone aware of their place and responsibilities and this lead to the stability of the early Roman Republic. The plebeians initially had no rights in the Republic and they were exploited by the patricians but they soon realized the fact and fought for their rights. Their efforts were rewarded and they gained a number of rights including the participation in political affairs. This plebeian rebellion contributed to the stability of the Roman Republic because then the state became democratic. According to Polybius, the Roman Republic political system was comprised of three elements that included the Consuls, the Senate, and the People. Each of them exercised power in their respective domain and did not interfere in the other domains. This division of power kept these groups from gaining too much power and absolute control over the state.
However, the Roman Republic ultimately collapsed and became an Empire. The demise of the Roman Republic could have been prevented if appropriate measures were taken. First of all, the unequal class distribution was the main factor in the failure of the Roman Republic. So, in my opinion, equal rights were needed to be given to all the citizens and the class conflict was needed to be resolved. Secondly, the corruption in the government was needed to be eliminated. There should have been a proper scrutiny of the government officials and the tax collectors. Moreover, special measures were required to effectively govern the areas obtained through wars. For instance, the areas could have been provided to the poor people of the state so that they could use it properly.
If we talk about the famous Roman personalities of the pre-imperial history, Tiberius Gracchus, was the person that I admire for his efforts and great insight. He belonged to the Rome’s elite but he strived for the lower classes of Rome. The landless peasantry was increasing in Rome and the gentry was obtaining the public lands acquired in various wars. Tiberius tried to bring a legislation that would redistribute the lands from the wealthy to the poor citizens. But he received a violent reaction and was eventually murdered. He was the person who struggled for the poor class and tried to bring a reform in the society by giving the poor a share in the public land.

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