You know that phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I”? Well I listened to a young man named Wes Moore tell his version of that story on Friday evening. Wes was the keynote speaker at byte night, an annual fundraiser for NPower Indiana. He’s the author of “The Other Wes Moore” which tells the story of these two eponymous young men who grew up in the same neighborhood and ended up in very different circumstances. One became a soldier, Rhodes Scholar, and author while the other became a convicted murderer who will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
As I listened to his story, I couldn’t help but think about my own life and how differently it could easily have turned out. During the Q&A I asked Moore if he recalled a day when it suddenly hit him that he had to change his ways or else. He described a day when he saw the power and respect bestowed upon one of the cadet leaders at the military school from which he had made multiple attempts to escape. I must admit I was disappointed to hear that a new, more acceptable power lust was the catalyst that turned his life, but I’m glad it worked for him.
For me, it was the undeserved kindness and concern of my fourth grade teacher, John G. Montgomery. He cared about my success when he didn’t have to or need to. I decided then that I’d do the same for someone else some day, but first I had to get myself together.
I left that school after fourth grade and never saw Mr. Montgomery again. I never got the chance to thank him for something that he probably doesn’t know he did.