Sebastian Junger Knows Why Young Men Go to War
War is hell, the cliche says, yet a lot of people are still drawn to it. Why would so many young men risk their lives? Junger thinks it comes down to biology and rites of passage.
“Young men go to war for the same reason that young boys play war,” he explains. “War is an extremely compelling endeavor for a lot of young men.”
What’s arguably more important, however, is that men bond extremely well together when subjected to the stress of combat. They “have an extremely strong affiliating response to each other,” he says.
When young men in America turn 18, they suddenly find themselves in the adult world with little direction. Some go to college, some find full-time work and others join the military.
“I think there’s a lot of cultural reinforcement,” Junger adds. “You know, you’re not a man until you’ve done something really difficult? And war is very difficult.”
War gives young males a chance to find a peer group and purpose to their lives.
That’s important in a society where a lot of young men don’t have either.
“I think this is probably the first society in history that actively discourages an intelligent conversation about what manhood should require of men,” Junger tells me. “Simultaneously, our society is asking adult males to be men,” he continues.
But what’s a man, anyway? “[Society should] help define it. So that I can achieve it. So that I can know when I’ve crossed the finish line. And then everyone shrugs their shoulders and says, ‘You know, it’s actually not polite to talk about it like that.’ It’s really confusing to young men.”
“One way to do it,” Junger explains. “Is to join the Army. It’s in there, in the male brain—‘Okay, if I go to war, surely I’ll come back a man.’’
When he asked soldiers in Afghanistan about their reasons for joining, it was a common response. “Some said, ‘I joined the Army because of 9/11. We were attacked and we have to defend ourselves,’” Junger says.
“Some of them were just straight up, ‘My father fought in Vietnam, my grandfather was in D-Day … I don’t wanna break that lineage of men in my family fighting.’”
“And some guys are a little more thoughtful,” he adds. “‘Well, I sorta thought it might make a man out of me.’”
Comment by firdaus-9898.blogspot.com/beyondthispunkt.tumblr.com
I guess that's the reason why I stick with this construction industry.
Even though it's sickening and hateful sometimes.
Even though I sometimes wondering if I'm being paid enough.
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) was a Lebanese poet, artist and is one of the most-beloved writers ever, thanks to his famous book The Prophet. Published in 1923, the book is a collection of 26 poems delivered as sermons by a Prophet who is leaving a city to return home. Before leaving, the people of the city ask him to share his thoughts about life’s big questions such as love, marriage, children, pain and freedom. The quote used in this comic is taken from chapter 7, about work.
The Prophet is one of the most successful books of all-time, having sold over 100 million copies. Apparently in the United States, it is second only to the Bible in numbers sold. Gibran’s beautifully hypnotic poetry has influenced the likes of John Kennedy, Indira Gandhi and John Lennon.
You can read The Prophet for free at Project Gutenberg Australia.