Sunday, January 6, 2019

Michael Messner's "Guys Like Me"

Michael A. Messner is Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Guys Like Me is as a transition point between chapters that sets up the story of Vietnam War veteran Gregory Ross. Centered on the page is a powerful excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous anti-war speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” delivered in 1967 at Riverside Church in New York:
“This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
King’s statement encapsulates two of the themes that run through the following chapter, and throughout the book. The first concerns the awesome costs and lasting trauma of war—to soldiers and civilians who have been defined as enemies, and also to the young men we send off to fight in our name, who are killed, wounded, and often emotionally scarred for life. The second theme offers a humane vision for the future of the United States. A nation founded on “wisdom, justice and love” instead of militarism would convert swords to plowshares, shifting national priorities toward meeting human needs.

Guys like Me tells the story of five ordinary men, scarred by their service in five U.S. wars, who later became extraordinary advocates for peace. In telling these individual stories, the book illustrates the lasting costs of war to those who fought them, and also the ways that veterans for peace are forging a path to peace and justice.
Visit Michael Messner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue