Thumbs up (with caveats) for Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. Psychology.
A short book. This is Junger’s rather diffuse “theory of human satisfaction” interweaving threads of PTSD, belonging, and how humans frequently feel better during hardship. This was an interesting book which made me think, so if that is its goal, it has succeeded. As a work of rigorous intellectual study, it fails utterly. Junger is upfront about his inclusion of personal stories which inform his thinking—which is absolutely perfect for a memoir. Unfortunately, he’s taking his own hypotheses as facts, and that’s not how that works. Even when he does include sources, he does not think to question the (sometimes extremely obvious) biases or questionable methodology of those sources. Do I think there are grains of truth here? Certainly. Do I think this book is the best exploration of any of the topics on which he touches? Certainly not. But it is, as noted, a very short book, and provides food for thought. If it interests you, read it—but apply your own mental faculties.
This book is about why that sentiment [feeling compelled to share the last of your food with someone] is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning. It’s about why—for many people—war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.
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