Reading Tribe, by the bestselling author, war reporter and filmmaker Sebastian Junger
I knew he sounded familiar. I listened to him on Bari Weiss’s podcast. Thank you for this piece. Will share. ( esp hit home as a mother of boys)
I love your Substack, Tara. I’m a relatively recent subscriber but am getting so much out of it already. Just listened to Sebastian Junger read Tribe on Audible as a direct result of this interview and, like you, I now want to give copies of the book to young people. I also greatly enjoyed the Walrus piece you link to here about L’Engle and your trip to Borneo. Absolutely beautiful writing! Thank you.
I don't think it's just about war. It's about the lack of humanity and lack of commonality or community that is taken as normal in much of contemporary American society. If you get out of it for a while you experience something like culture shock when you return. It happened to me when I came back from two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer sharing life with peasants in a small rural village.
Not just about being in war, or combat, to miss the feelings when you come home. It's about your team. Working closely with a team in trying circumstances is incredibly binding, even though you may not recognize it at the time. Your team, as mine in the military, may have nothing in common in terms of background, class, race, etc. - but you have each other, pursuing a common objective. Few things more meaningful, or formative, in terms of life experience. I miss my team.
"Humans evolved to survive in extremely harsh environments, and our capacity for cooperation and sharing clearly helped us do that. "
I think, in addition to this need for collaborative meaningful struggle, there is a need for individual physical work to achieve shared goals. When you think about human evolution, it is only a small fraction of our existence where we sit at a screen all day to make our living. It isn't natural... especially for men... and I think it contributes to this feeling of being unwell.
I will be sure to buy the book. He diagnosed the symptom and the cause, and even part of the solution. But not the complete solution. God created us to crave community. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the perfect picture of community. Early Christians depicted this tribe by serving together, worshipping together and for many, dying together. But no amount of human connection will replace the true connection that we need: that with God. And there’s no way to have community with God in our sinful state. Sin separates us from a holy God. But God recognized that and provided the answer for free in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of that, for those who confess and believe, we are able to be considered family with God. Jesus said those who believe in Him are His brothers, sisters, and mothers. When we are made fully right with God, you will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.
People have evolved to be very interdependent, and without that interdependence, society becomes very 2 dimensional. In NZ I am lucky to have indigenous tribes living just over the fence, who have retained their 3D native culture with more intimate connections. Hongi greeting instead of shaking hands. Their culture also has plenty of warlike symbolism in their traditional practices. Indigenous tribes around the world have always turned to sacramental herbs to aid their awareness. We had LSD to turn to when we needed to remember which feelings are important in life. So even though we are living in an emotional desert, there are still ways to find like minded people, and be an oasis.