One the most personally meaningful podcast interviews we’ve done over the years was Our Evolutionary Need For Community, recorded with Peabody award-winning author Sebastian Junger. Junger is well-known for his NYT-bestselling books The Perfect Storm and War, the latter of which was written after a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley.
Based on his observations while in Afghanistan, Junger noted how much troops in combat valued the social solidarity of their units. In fact, he noted that the loss of this cohesive community, with its sense of purpose and shared responsibility, created prodigious psychological strife when these soldiers returned and tried to re-integrate into civilian life. This dynamic is not just limited to the military; any collection of humans working in tight-knit groups under stress, united in purpose, evidences similar behavior (Peace Corps volunteers, trauma care physicians, etc).
In his excellent book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Junger explored our evolutionary wiring for community, and paradoxically, how our modern aspirations for “success” and “wealth” attempt to distance ourselves from it — making us unhappier and emotionally unhealthier in the pursuit.
Since recording our initial interview with Sebastian, we’ve often shared the insights from it with the Peak Prosperity tribe at live events and in our writings. So this week we decided to reconnect with Sebastian, and hear how his thoughts and conclusions on the topic have evolved since we last talked with him.
It’s clear that he believes more than ever that the future prosperity of our society will be rooted in rediscovering how to create and foster the communal bonds our tribal ancestors lived by. And that begins by taking an honest look at the narratives, behaviors, and modern conveniences and temptations that keep us trapped in unhappy, unhealthy isolation.