BY JAMIE REESE
“When you start your day reading letters from someone who’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison…it adds a sense of perspective to your day,” said Wes Moore, the author of “The Other Wes Moore—One Name, Two Fates.”
Moore’s novel was chosen for ESU’s first “One Book, One Campus” initiative. He visited ESU on November 19 to speak about his novel that tells the stories of himself and the other Wes Moore.
One became celebrated, and the other was convicted of felony murder, and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
The evening started in the Hoeffner Science and Technology Center, where students had the opportunity to meet Moore.
Moore claimed the other Wes was intelligent and had many attributes, but he also said he was not trying to make excuses for Wes, and he was not trying to lessen the severity of what Wes did.
“Wes understands his sentence, and I understand his sentence, and neither one of us is doing anything to change it,” said the author Wes Moore.
The evening continued in the Keystone Room, where a dinner was held with the author.
Students, faculty, administrators, members of the community, and many more were able to purchase tickets to attend the dinner. All of the proceeds will go to the next “One Book, One Campus” program.
The Student Activity Association (SAA) was recognized for giving the university $15,000 to help fund the program.
Other contributing groups and individuals, such as Aramark, were recognized as well.
Dr. Peter Pruim of the Philosophy department was acknowledged for his work in the program.
“Dr. Pruim put his entire heart and soul into this initiative. He recruited people to give seminars, lectures, group discussion…” said President Marcia G. Welsh.
One student was recognized for her sculpture made of a book, and three other students were recognized as winners of the “One Book, One Campus” essay contest. The essay winners received a nook, courtesy of Barnes and Noble.
The evening continued in the Abeloff Center for the Performing Arts, where Moore gave a speech, followed by questions.
“When people look for the one thing that made the difference, it’s not there,” said Moore.
“The point of this book wasn’t to tell people what to think. It was simply to ask them to think, and to ask them to engage.”
“Both Wes and I are really easy to caricature…It’s easy to say that’s the story of the good Wes and the bad Wes, or the good mom and the bad mom…What I wanted people to get is that line is really thin,” said Moore.
The author Wes Moore asked the other Wes whether he thought people are products of their environment, and Wes said “I think we’re products of our expectations.”
Commenting on a time before the author considered himself to be on the right path, he said, “I literally had teachers that would lower their bars of expectations for me, because they felt bad for me…without realizing that lowering my bar is never doing me a favor.”
Wes did not attribute the divergence in fates between himself and the other Wes to anything in particular, but he thinks there is a human solution to at least some human problems.
“The most important thing about the title is the ‘Other,’” said Moore. “I’m a firm believer that potential in this country is universal. Opportunity is not.”
He said, “The most important question that people will ask you…is what are you doing to make humanity better…who did you help?”
Wes spoke of his current work, and how it relates to building the community.
“I am running a production company. We create content for television, film, radio, etcetera,” said Moore. “I also do a lot of work in education…matching up publishers, and working with publishers to turn content into curriculum for school students.”
“I’ve realized that I really do enjoy the process of writing…I have a few new books coming out next year—doing work on the children’s literature side, but the next adult book I’m working on is something called ‘The Work’” said Moore.
Moore continued, “What I want to do with that is examine this new centuries’ definition on what it means to have meaningful work, and how exactly do we find and focus on our point and our purpose in life. I’m doing that by looking at about nine different people…that have really found their points in multiple different fields.”