Why a tribe is the solution to so many of our problems today

Tribe On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger thoughts and review
Sebastian Junger, author of the book Tribe, The Perfect Storm, War, and others. Image courtesy of thestar.com

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

Tribe was on my to-read list for a while, and it only took me 2 days to finish it. It’s a very short, sparse 130 pages. Here are some of the most interesting quotes from the book with a few thoughts near the end.

“I know what coming back to America from a war zone is like because I’ve done it so many times. First, there’s a kind of shock at the comfort and affluence that we enjoy, but that is followed by the dismal realization that we live in a society that is basically at war with itself. People speak with incredible contempt about, depending on their views: the rich, the poor, the educated, the foreign born, the President, or the entire US government. It is a level of contempt that is usually reserved for enemies in wartime except that now it is applied to our fellow citizens. Unlike criticism, contempt is particularly toxic because it assumes a moral superiority in the speaker. Contempt is often directed at people who have been excluded from a group or declared unworthy its benefits. Contempt is often used by governments to provide rhetorical cover for torture or abuse. Contempt is one of four behaviors that, statistically, can predict divorce in married couples. People who speak with contempt for one another will probably not remain united for long.”

“If you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places where you’re different—you underscore your shared humanity,”

“As affluence and urbanization rise in a society, rates of depression and suicide tend to go up rather than down.”

“It may be worth considering whether middle-class American life—for all its material good fortune—has lost some essential sense of unity that might otherwise discourage alienated men from turning apocalyptically violent.”

“What would you risk dying for—and for whom—is perhaps the most profound question a person can ask themselves. The vast majority of people in modern society are able to pass their whole lives without ever having to answer that question, which is both an enormous blessing and a significant loss.”

“How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage?”

“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. It’s time for that to end.”

“Human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others. These values are considered “intrinsic” to human happiness and far outweigh “extrinsic” values such as beauty, money and status.”

This book with full of insights on why we have evolved to essentially to live in tribes, and what we’ve lost from abandoning that model. Contempt and superiority of one side compared to another has really overtaken any sense of coming together. Parents will find it interesting to learn we isolate our babies right from the first few months of birth, which is so contrary to our design. Whereas in tribal societies, we were held 90%> of the time, in today’s age of separate rooms and trying to imbue a false sense of independence (instead of interdependence) in babies, no wonder we are creating a generation of anxious, stressed out, depressed young people.

What we need today is a greater sense of unity and tribal community (Ubuntu) than ever before. Not only does it restore us to our more natural evolutionary past, but also restores happiness and security into our lives. This is not about a false sense of tribe that social media provides us,

The world needs it in large doses. The book also does a great job exploring why so many of us feel so distant with our neighbours, our friends, and ourselves.

Leave a Reply