Born with hemophilia, Massie’s childhood combined bouts of intense pain and disappointment with unabashed joy and lavish family affection. In this moving memoir, the author (Loosing the Bonds, 1997) recounts how this doubled-edged environment laid the foundation for a life filled with compassion and activism.
Frequently bedridden and shut out of normal adolescent activities, the author became a reader and thinker. “As I observed others, I also inched away from my self-centered view,” he writes. “I realized that many, if not most, other people faced their own struggles.” Massie continually questioned perceived injustices or institutional unfairness. Whether these unjust conditions existed in the form of racism, cultural and class divides in college, a haphazard and unjust system of free-market health insurance or belligerent corporate attitudes, Massie sought change for those affected. His educational and professional credentials are impressive. He attended Yale Divinity School, Harvard Business School, completed “a valuable stint at the Kennedy School of Government,” taught at Harvard Divinity School and ran for political office in Massachusetts. No matter which issue Massie faced, his goal remained the same: “I want everyone to thrive.” Massie faced a severe health challenge in the form of Hepatitis C, which debilitated him for years until he received a liver transplant, and years earlier, he had contracted HIV during a blood transfusion, though the disease never developed into AIDS. Massie offered himself to Massachusetts General Hospital as a research subject, resulting in a seismic shift in how the medical field looked at HIV. Without sentimentality or a partisan point of view, Massie offers a refreshing alternative from the divisive discourse rampant within much of today’s culture. “Let us choose a new way of talking to each other that honors each other’s dignity even as we disagree, perhaps profoundly, with each other’s views,” he writes in the epilogue.
A testament to the strength and goodness within the human spirit.