Quotes from: Tribe, On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

Quotes from Tribe, On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger, 12 Hachette Book Group, New York, NY, May 2016.
<><><> My reflections:
There is something fundamentally appealing and reasonable about the premise of Tribe, which is that we have much to learn from the community life of American Indians, as we understand it.  It was egalitarian, and it was non acquisitive as modern society has become. (Unfortunately, the actual traditions of many tribal peoples were lost to the ravages of the newcomers.)
Junger pays particular attention to the American Indian history of the upper northeast area of the United States, although he makes other less detailed references.
In the second part of the book he described the experiences of military veterans of U.S. wars.  His thoughts and observations are valuable in considering how we all support each other.
(I keep wanting to say “Go Local” because power derives from personal contact and commitment to shared values.  But that is for a different post.  )
I extracted quotes as I read.  I find them to be useful.  For me, Junger convolutes masculine roles and leadership.  He spends little time of analysis on female leadership roles.  In the mid section the discussion of types of leadership in a mine disaster also is used to argue that strong leaders early in the disaster cited were the masculine roles and  compassionate collegial leadership later on was the feminine side. I think we sell ourselves short by relegating compassion and collaboration to the feminine.  Feminine and masculine aspects are fundamentally different and we would do well to appreciate them rather than compare them.
There are other writers concerning community whom I may address at another time, such as Henri Nouwen and Jean Vanier.  Nevertheless, in the face of a national and international politics as we have them today, there is something to be said for recreating the community spirit in which humans have developed for hundreds of thousands and perhaps a million years.
<><><> Quotes
  • 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?
  •  A tribe would be defined as the people you feel compelled to share the last of your food with.
  • 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 is time for that to end.
  • Indians almost never ran away to White Society but many of the early Europeans moved to Indian Society.
  • Out on the fringes people tended to do what they wanted.
  • One of the women said, We had no master to oversee or drive us.  So we could work as we pleased, as leisurely as we pleased.
  • Cruelty in other words was very much the norm for that era and the native tribes of North America were no exception.
  • It’s possible that many people feel affluence and safety simply are not a good trade for freedom.
  • In a nomadic cultures surplus accumulation is kept to a minimum.
  • Early humans would most likely have lived in a nomadic bands of around 50 people. And they would have done almost everything in the company of others. They would have almost never been alone.
  • First Agriculture, and then industry, changed two fundamental things about the human experience. The accumulation of personal property allowed people to make more and more individualistic choices about their lives and those choices unavoidably diminished group efforts toward a common good.   And as a society modernized people found themselves able to live independently from any communal group.  A person living in a modern city or suburb can for the first time in history go through an entire day, or an entire life, mostly encountering complete strangers.  They can be surrounded by others and yet feel deeply dangerously alone.
  • A wealthy person who has never had to rely on help and resources from his community is leading a privileged life that falls way outside more than a million years of human experience.
  • Self-determination Theory holds that 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.
  • As modern society reduced the role of community it simultaneously elevated the role of authority. The two are uneasy companions and as one goes up the other tends to go down.
  • In foraging communities one of the most common traits was the absence of major wealth disparities between individuals; another was the absence of arbitrary authority.
  • Authority is almost impossible to impose on the unwilling.
  • In current day foraging groups, group execution (killing the offender) is one of the most common ways of punishing males who try to claim a disproportionate amount of the group’s resources.
  • Boehms research led him to believe that much of the evolutionary basis for moral development moral behavior stems from group pressure.
  • Oxytocin creates a feedback loop of good feeling and group loyalty that ultimately leads members to self sacrifice to promote group welfare.
  • Most travel and subsistence level societies would inflict severe punishments on anyone who caused the kind of damage which the financial institutions inflicted upon the world. The fact that there was so little consequence shows how completely detribalized the country has become.
  • Democratic revolutions are just a formalized version of the sort of group action that coalitions of senior males have used throughout the ages to confront greed and abuse.
  • The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good.
  • What would you risk dying for and for whom is perhaps the most profound question a person can ask themselves.

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