There's a very telling moment when Other Wes Moore asks Author Wes Moore when he first felt like a man. Author gives a kind of generic response about responsibility to other people, but what is more important and telling were his thoughts and reflections after the prison visit ended.
"There was no official ceremony that brought my childhood to an end... But for some of us the promotion to adulthood, or at least its challenges, is so jarring, so sudden, that we enter into it unprepared and might be undone by it." Page 66.
I personally hate that we do not have an official age where we become adults. It seems to be different for every family and every individual. So while I was more or less a full-fledged adult at 22, living on my own and providing for myself, I know of other 22 year olds who rarely even set foot out of the parental home, much less have ambitions of leaving it permanently. I hate, hate, hate that I am currently living the way I am now and absolutely feel like a child who can't take care of herself. My mother has been very good about not making me feel too bad about it, but the fact remains that I am using her resources when I should rightfully be building up my own in preparation for my slow decline into old person-dom.
I really think it might be a good thing for this country if we just sat down and said, "At 16 you become an adult, no more do-overs, no more second chances." There a lot of 16 year olds out there who are capable of being treated like adults and should be treated like adults. Those are the people we are doing a disservice to because we lump them in with the 16 year olds who are getting drunk every weekend and acting like children. Perhaps if we expected our young people to behave like adults and act with a certain amount of decorum, they might actually start doing it.
|Poitier is not amused.|
The question I would like to put to those who might object to this treatment of young persons as adults is, What harm would it really do to show young people the same respect you might show an adult? After all, these are kids who can
And if we're going to take the car away we can go ahead and take away his crappy part time job which might very well be the only responsibility he has nowadays. Yeah, if he's not an adult there's no way he should be working around things like hot grease or cleaning chemicals. Those things are dangerous for children! And respect, god dammit, what use is there in respecting some snot-nosed kid behind a Burger King counter? It's not like that little shit will go off to college and end up being more successful than me someday. Might as well treat all those teenagers like dirt under my fingernails rather than as the young adults they are.
Now, to all the 16 year olds who are probably not reading this, please act like young adults. Please earn the right to be treated as young gentlemen and ladies. I think you will find life much more enjoyable and fulfilling in the long run if you do.
My review can be found on Goodreads. Also, there's an excellent interview from the Colbert Report.
LibsNote: Free copy received from the Firstreads Program on Goodreads.