In Junger’s rather sketchy description, tribal life sounds rather like being in the Army, although with less hierarchy, less marching, and even more gossip. Hunter-gatherers, the most intense form of tribal life, are strikingly egalitarian, constantly forming backbiting coalitions to undermine the confidence of superior hunters to keep the strongest men from monopolizing all the women.
Similarly, Junger notes, humans living under seemingly catastrophic conditions, such as London during the Blitz, his father’s hometown of Dresden under RAF raids, and the besieged Sarajevo he visited as a young reporter, seem to enjoy better overall mental health than peacetime Americans.I recognize something like this pattern in my own life, as well as in the literature that most appeals to me, but it makes me a bit impatient. Whether people are shooting at you or not, we've been given all the opportunities to band together passionately against misfortune that any creatures could well wish for. We have only to seek the opportunities out, something we're not always so eager to do when an easy, comfortable life is within our grasp. We have no excuse to let our lives become meaningless or empty merely because we're well fed and unusually safe in the context of human history.