from St. Louis on the Air
4:17 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

Two kids. One name. Many choices.

In the introduction to his book, The Other Wes Moore, author Wes Moore says:

This is the story of two boys living in Baltimore with similar histories and an identical name: Wes Moore.  One of us is free and has experienced things he never even knew to dream about as a kid.  The other will spend every day until his death behind bars for an armed robbery that left a police officer and father of five dead.  The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine.  The tragedy is that my story could have been his.

Wes Moore was filled with happy disbelief when he read his own name in a Baltimore Sun headline in late 2000, “Local Graduate Named Rhodes Scholar. ”  He was filled with a stranger, more haunting disbelief when he read about another young man, also Wes Moore, in that very same paper.  The other Wes had been arrested and charged in the death of an off duty policy officer, shot and killed during a botched jewelry store robbery.

This coincidence led to a correspondence and a relationship between the two Wes Moores, and the New York Times bestselling book about their lives published in 2010.

Scholar, combat veteran, author, and business leader Wes Moore stopped by St. Louis on the Air today.  (He’s in town for his appearance with Maryville Talks Books tonight at 7:30pm at Christ Church Cathedral.)

We asked Moore to help us ponder the question: Why do we turn out the way we do?  What factors are the most influential over a life?  Environment?  Genetics?  Luck?  It’s a question that may not be answerable, but Moore was happy to take a stab, and simultaneously to issue a call to action:

My definition of fate has completely changed.  I don’t think people are born to be this or born to be that.   It’s not predestined.  I think potential in this country is universal, but opportunity is not.  The space in between what our potential is and where we end up is where we as a society come in.  That’s where parents, teachers, role models, mentors, coaches, that’s where we come in.

To hear the whole conversation, and we think you should, visit the St. Louis on the Air archive.