We have never been more connected and more isolated. That is the paradox of the modern world and the bedrock of Sebastian Junger's thesis in his latest work, Tribe. Modern living, its trappings and its priorities have taken us so far from the tribal nature ingrained in our DNA. In this well-researched, short volume, Junger postulates that it is the comfort and convenience of our lives that feeds this isolation and causes unparalleled rates of depression and mental illness.
Tribe is simultaneously an advocacy piece for the modern soldier returning to the home front. Based on his research, he concludes that the rise of PTSD can be linked to the isolating effect described above. Warfare and the soldiering life, he says, replicate this human need for communal, tribal existence. Take a soldier away from their brothers and sisters in arms, and there are bound to be consequences, especially if the soldier endured trauma.
As a society, we need to go beyond the platitudes of American flag lapel pins and "I support the troops" bumper stickers. Tribe is a blueprint for that work, and it's work that needs to be done throughout our culture.