Book Review - Tribe by Sebastian Junger

About 5 days ago I finished reading Tribe, it was not a long read as far as page wise, but it has the wheels turning. There is much for me to digest in this book, and the subject touches me personally and a good number of people that I love and care for so I have many thoughts and feelings about what I just read. But I have hold Mr. Junger in the highest regards for putting out this book, there are many ideas and arguments that he brings to the table.

So I know (at least I can only hope) that you my dear readership is just raring to go and “get on with the review itself”, but before we do that I first would like to set the tone for this review with a song that I have listened hundreds of times over the last not so distant years, and I always look at it from the perspective that I am home, but I will never be home because of many of the things that Junger discusses and lays bare in “Tribe”.

This is a Dedication to all the veterans of the United States Armed Forces, that feel aliented, marginalized, and disenfranchised by what our present day country has become for us. It is also for those that are serving at this very moment. For those of us, who may be still searching for that sense of “Home”. For the veterans that are struggling with their various demons, PTSD, homeless and all that sometimes come with these things.

I may not have but nothing to offer my comrades, brothers and sisters but let me be the first to say “Welcome Home”. We need to hear this, and feel this, and internalize this in order to be whole.

Every word of this song I dedicate it to you and I am more than sure Mr. Adriano would be cool with that. It also dedicated to my sister directly, and also to the people of this great nation.

As much anger and animosity that I have felt as to what we let America become, I still love her dearly with all my heart. Never forget that.

Dan Andriano and The Emergency Room

This Light

Is there something that I should know Some handshake or some secret code To get me through your doorway one more time Is there a button I can press To block out noise from all the rest You’re the only sound I need to hear

See I’m burning up out here in this light Looked so pretty from the inside, but out here it’s too damn bright And you’re voice sounds so far away, so I respond to the delay And I wait to hear you say to come home

Is there a place that I can go To forget the things I’ve never known Because I don’t want to want anymore Is there a dream that I can have Where I don’t wake up freezing and sad Or could you show me how to sleep on my back

See I’m burning up out here in this light Looked so pretty from the inside, but out here it’s too damn bright And you’re voice sounds so far away, so I respond to the delay And I wait to hear you say to come home

I can’t always be right there, but I can get there soon I can’t always hold your hand, But I will always love you

See I’m freezing out here in this light Looked so pretty from the inside, but out here it’s too damn bright And you’re voice sounds so far away, so I respond to the delay And I wait to hear you say to come home.

Sebastian Junger co-directed both


and “Korengal”

both films that should leave you profoundly moved if you claim to be an “American” no matter what your political ideologies are and which direction they point in. Just this fact alone, I personally believe gives him carte blanche to be discussing, exploring and articulating on this topic. Junger walks the walks and talks the talk, he has been through some seriously trauma laden experiences and I whole heartedly trust his sincerity and authenticity on the matter. Which may even be more important than his professional credentials as a whole.

While I can certainly relate to almost always of the arguments and ideas put forth in the book, some of them I had a hard time with and I am not completely sure why. Perhaps it is the scope and context of the book’s content itself, and to some degree the way some of the topics are unpacked and framed up for the reader.

So this book talks about PTSD but I am not sure if Junger at times is speaking only about Combat PTSD in the context of War and other times if he is speaking more inclusively in general about humans that are diagnosed with PTSD. This is somewhat bothersome. Now please don’t get me wrong, I honestly believe this book had to be written and it had to be published, whether or not it is flawed or damn near perfect. Junger is not the “bottom-line” when it comes to PTSD subject matter experts, but he never claimed to be. But by honestly and sincerely putting this book out there, it can only open up a more socially and culturally inclusive dialgue and that can only be a postive step in the right direction.

At times I was not really certain of where Junger was going or I felt he was not being clear enough in regards to two topics, regarding PTSD pertaining to the Veterans of our Armed Forces specifically. Victims and Fraudulent VA Disability Claims

When Junger is making the claim that lifelong disability payments are putting veterans at risk with the VA possibly creating a Victim Class, to me this is very close using the word victim in a “Shooting from hip” and using it elsewhere within the pages of this book similar to that of “A bull in a China Closet”. The word Victim has been overly abused and it’s meaning pervisifed way too much since the last 5 years of the 20th century up till present day, I mean what the fuck? Let’s call it for what it is, if someone or yourself was a victim of something, that’s an empirical fact of your personal life’s history and experience. People just tritely want to tell you to STFU and move on, please man, stop with this shit. If you don’t like people being stuck in some of the complexities mentally of being victimized then maybe you should be a champion and stand up for people, or maybe you don’t want that either. Really, I just think a lot of writes and speakers throw this word around with a lot of Lack of Respect when they don’t know. End of story. Don’t like it, then leave page, you don’t need to be here.

Lifelong disability payments for a disorder like PTSD, which is both treatable and usually not chronic, risks turning veterans into >a victim class that is entirely dependent on the government for their livelihood. The United States is a wealthy country that may be>able to afford this, but in human terms, the veterans can’t. The one way that soldiers are never allowed to see themselves during de>ployment is as victims, because the passivity of victimhood can get them killed. It’s yelled, beaten, and drilled out of them long b>efore they get close to the battlefield. But when they come home they find themselves being viewed so sympathetically that they’re o>ften excused from having to fully function in society. Some of them truly can’t function, and those people should be taken care of i>mmediately; but imagine how confusing it must be to the rest of them.–pp. 101-102

First of all, VA disability compensation for PTSD and other mental health issues work is not Automatically given and rated as permanent, review C&P appointments can be issued, and sometimes there are increases and decreases in the compensation and/or the Veterans is reasonably healed enough to where a rating is significantly downgraded. The above paragraph is an intellectual generalization at best in my opinion, not to disrespect the author at all. But this is one area that I feel detracts from the rest of this work.

The sentence following this paragraph though, speaks truth, volumens of it.

Perhaps most important, veterans need to feel that they’re just as necessary and productive back in society as they were on the battlefield.–pp. 101-102

Dr. Brian P. Marx response to Frueh victimhood.html

Both of these issues he discusses here, are due to two symptoms of predatory capitalism the first being the continued abstraction of national service to the republic (e.g. no skin in the game) and the carrying out of said service to the nation by only a meager and select portion of the populace and the increasing alientation of the sacrifices made by those with “Skin in the game”. I believe strongly that Junger captures this in a round about way, and much of the points made in this book mirror some of Andrew Bacevich’s thoughts in his book entitled “Betrayal of Trust”.

Another thing we must talk about is that PTSD is NOT exclusive of only our nation’s veteran populace, there are huge swaths of differing demographics that suffer from PTSD that cut across a staggering strata of cultural and social boundaries. For example, our country bombed both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it has been proven historically and empirically that Japan was ready to surrender anyway. Both cities had a disproportionately small amount of troops as opposed to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Better yet, there exists a certain amount of animus towards United States Air Force troops that fly drone missions and them claiming they have PTSD, what the fuck? Really? Now, on the other side of the coin, then we have an innocent kid just going to get food or water in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen and ends up surviving but on the very edge or periphery of repeated and successful drone strikes?

I liked very much what Junger had to say here and it’s 100 percent truth.

The public is often accused of being disconnected from its military, but frankly it’s disconnected from just about everything. Farming, mineral extraction, gas and oil production, bulk cargo transport, logging, fishing, infrastructure construction– all the industries that keep the nation going are mostly unacknowledged by the people who depend on them most. As great a sacrifice as soldiers make, American workers arguably make a greater one. Far more Americans lose their lives every year doing dangerous jobs than died during the entire Afghan War. In 2014, for example, 4,679 workers lost their lives on the job. More than 90 percent of those deaths were of young men working in industries that have a mortality rate equivalent to most units in the US military. Jobs that are directly observable to the public, like construction, tend to be less respected and less well paid than jobs that happen behind closed doors, like real estate or finance. And yet it is exactly these jobs that provide society’s immediate physical needs. Construction workers are more important to everyday life than stockbrokers and yet are far lower down the social and financial ladder. This fundamental lack of connectedness allows people to act in trivial but incredibly selfish ways.– pp. 111-112.

Universally PTSD is much bigger problem than many of you puny humans think, first of all. Way too too much trauma and hurt is generated by man. I mean, when someone develops PTSD or anxiety issues directly as a result of “Acts of God” that’s one thing, and perhaps there is not a whole lot we can do to remediate those events from occurring. But we can do a whole lot to not generate and create situations that put people through all this trauma and the negative mental and emotional overhead that comes with it, by…. Oh' I know being a nice person, being a more spiritual person, and actively standing to up for the voiceless and defensless and not only when there is something to be gained or profits to earned.

Let’s get back to what I think is the main premise of this work anyway, and that is that in troubled times a society or country with one of the ultimate is when your nation is at war and/or being physically and in a very palpable way attacked Junger presents us with the hypthesis that somehow this galvanizes us and to an great extent alleviate many of the negative symptoms facing those of us whom live with PTSD on a daily basis. The second main point is that the original owners of the ‘tierra firma’ of this great nation the Native American Indigenous peoples of this great land, dealt with anxiety and PTSD as society in a much more effective manner both socially and culturally than us Westernized Anglos ever could and that we have lost something very dear to all humans as a society. On both arguments, I have nothing but applause and agreement over these.

As a nation I cannot help but feel, and think intuitively based on my formal collegiate studies and personal research as well as observations that the United States is truly addicted to War in order for it’s people to maintain it’s current way of life, a life of gorging and convenience at almost any cost. Another thing, is that we are a nation of a mainly consumers or passive participants at best when it comes to service or adding value to our country as citizens. In software development “Abstraction” of certain functionalities is often desired and warranted, but when we are talking about a country and it’s citizens, especially the showcase of “Democratic Societies” then we are failing due to increased alienation and abstaction of the citizens from active contributing and participation within the nation’s society.

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