Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
“War feels better than peace.”
That’s what it says. Not that war is better. It feels better. To put comments like that into context and perspective, you should read the book.
Tribe put me in touch with a part of myself that wants something which I haven’t had in long time–the feeling of belonging to a tribe. When I had it, it was temporary. I’ve lost my tribe, and I feel the void.
I don’t want to think we have a dystopian or apocalyptic world. But I realize that conflict and evil are pervasive in human nature. Also, all nature holds danger, evil threats, and risks to our survival. It has always been so and there is little sign of relief.
Junger’s book is supposed to be about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and American combat veterans returning to our normal and civilized society. It is about that, but there’s more to it. While vets are the focused subjects of the book, they are examples he uses to make an ultimate point about human nature and American society. I suspect that is why the book is so popular.
Maybe we are not what we think we are. Are we as peace-loving as we claim to be? We’ve certainly done much to create a peaceful society in America and other countries around the world, with varying degrees of success–mostly minor or the opposite of what we intended to do.
My favorite sentence in the book is just two words: “And yet.” (p. 109)
We crave peace, comfort, safety, pleasure, privacy, and independence. And yet, when we look at the history of human behavior under dangerous and stressful situations, something strange often happens to us. We are healthier and apparently (oddly?) happier—less depressed, when under stress. It should be the opposite, right?
I’ll not say more about the phenomenon because I don’t want to play spoiler. I want you to read the book. But, don’t use my library. There are now 184+ waits to read it. The word is out.
This book spoke to me. It’s my inner voice. Maybe I’m in denial. While I’m not overtly competitive and I’m so-so on some sports (I prefer playing to watching); I enjoy tension, drama, and mystery more than I like to admit. I have a love-hate relationship with fear and stress. I want them, and I don’t. WTF?
That voice is saying something. I know what it’s telling me. I know exactly what Junger is talking about—and I agree.
I avoid trouble. I want peace and love in the world. But I am a realist (in my mind, anyway). I enjoy conflict. While I’m unlikely to start trouble, when it’s forced on me, I’m in.
I despise fighting. I don’t enjoy pain or suffering, especially my own. But when I fight, I don’t want to stop. Something is deep inside me crying for more. Where’s my tribe?
When conflict is forced on me, I feel a change (a charge?) in my being–I feel strangely better. Got a tribe to protect and feed? I’m your man.
Consider the tribe concept in dealing with a crisis. We are all fighting for survival. We need each other. Your struggle is my struggle. We can share everything and overcome adversity for the good the tribe.
My personal paradox is that I’m an introvert and I enjoy my alone time. I value my privacy and a good night’s sleep as much as anyone. But I find the concept of a tribe fascinating, intriguing, and alluring—the challenge. The fight! Combat!
Our survival didn’t just happen. When you consider natural human strength, we’re easy prey in the animal kingdom. While we’re most vulnerable alone and we need protection, there’s something comforting and rewarding about the danger out there and what the tribe does for us.
Read the book.
When you find your tribe,
join them and cherish them. But, look both ways.