A few weeks ago (and yes, I’m ignoring the months that have passed with no word), a friend stopped in for an afternoon. This was lovely for many reasons but the best reason of all was that this friend is one of those people who reads so many books you have to get a pen and paper and scribble furiously to keep up as she ticks off her mental list of must-reads.
Readers, you’re welcome (from her to me and now to you)…because I’m working my way through that list and passing it along to you.
The first book I hurried out to read was Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.
Is that not compelling? Does that not smack you upside the head and say: we all need a homecoming and to find the place we belong?
It does for me, a nomadic woman who has spent the past 14 years following the whims of military life and hoping (fingers perpetually crossed) to find what feels like home.
Junger touches on all of this in his short (136 pages) exploration of why our culture seems to be drifting apart, tethered to our differences rather than our similarities and fighting always for the resources we work so hard to create.
I could go on and on about this book, about what it means to me and how it applies to a well-spent day and about why I think this a conversation we need to be having at micro and macro levels, but instead, here are 10 Things About Junger’s Tribe:
In the introduction, Junger writes, “Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end.” Indeed. Indeed.
Junger explores the idea that hardship isn’t really as bad as we think and that we actually come together in times of trial and tribulation. I’ve often considered this and seen it play out in life, but it makes for an interesting discussion as to how to we maintain the good feels that come when we all have to come together long after the hardship has ended.
Junger’s thoughts on PTSD are compelling. On page 82 he writes, “Statistically, the 20 percent of people who fail to overcome trauma tend to be those who are already burdened by psychological issues, either because they inherited them or because they suffered abuse as children.” This makes me think of The Body Keeps the Score, another great read.
Junger isn’t afraid to go into gender roles and leadership styles, arguing that certain types of leadership reflect roles typically filled by each gender within society. I don’t disagree with Junger and appreciate that he notes this is not absolute; some men fill traditionally female roles and vice versa. Where I think society gets the gender roles/leadership issue wrong is in devaluing the leadership roles of women in comparison with those of men. Both, in my view, are equally important and necessary, a point Junger explores.
The positive effects of war on mental health? Yep. Get the book if you want to find out more. (see page 48)
One of the most compelling questions Junger poses: What would you risk dying for - and for whom….(page 59). It’s a question I don’t know many of us ask anymore. I don’t know that many of our lives are life and death, which is perhaps part of why we feel less and less and need more and more to achieve the same level of aliveness?
Junger asks a lot of questions in this book, offers examples for the opinions he supports (in sort of an underlying way) but he doesn’t offer many solutions or answers. I think this book is a great way to open the discussion.
Sense of purpose and involvement in community (which are often linked) are addressed here, and these are two things that sort of haunt me. We live in an individualistic society, which I love. I love being an American, with all my cowboy independence and rogue warrior status (I’m kidding here, kind of), but I also realize how lonely and isolated that can make us, and with the advent of technology that creates a Potemkin Village of connection, I wonder how far we can get from each other before we are stranded for reals.
This book makes me realize that though I would love to reach out and connect….I’m not even sure how to do that anymore. I don’t want to seem pathetic or needy. I don’t want to invade people’s privacy. I don’t want to overstep boundaries. How do we connect when we have so many rules for doing the opposite?
This would be a great book to read in a group (I know…ironic) for the simple discussion that might follow.
I’ll be curious if anyone else has read Tribe or heads out, picks it up and spends an afternoon in the bathtub (as I did) and then begins to question the legitimacy of air conditioning and long-term peace.
Let me know.
More on my life status coming soon. There have been big, sad, exciting changes, which I’m not entirely sure how to talk about and which I’m not entirely sure how not to talk about.