What Soldiers at War Can Teach Us About Surviving Financial Warfare
On a recent "Real Time,"
Recounting the months Junger spent embedded with a 30-man platoon in
According to Junger, the answer is not the obvious -- that the soldiers are adrenaline junkies. The answer, in fact, is "Love" -- the title of "War's" third section.
"These guys are junkies, kind of, for the brotherly love," observed Maher.
"That's exactly right," replied Junger. "This one guy said to me, 'You know there are guys in the platoon who straight up hate each other, but we would all die for each other.' Every guy in that platoon was necessary to everyone else and that necessariness, I think, is actually way more addictive than adrenaline is. I think that's what people are talking about when soldiers say 'I miss it over there.' You have an unshakable meaning in a small group that you can't duplicate in a society."
"Unshakable meaning." And "necessariness." We can duplicate both outside the battlefield. Indeed, we have to. In times of mortal danger, soldiers unconsciously create a sense of purpose and community and kinship. Right now, the perils we are facing here at home are not as tangible and immediate as those faced by our soldiers in
The results of these can be deadly. "The suicide rate has already gone up, and my suspicion is that it will not go down," said
A 2002 study by researchers at
This economic crisis has put into question the American Dream and threatens the very survival of the middle class as the economic and cultural engine of our country.
It's also become clear that we're not going to be able to rely solely on government to fix things. Yes, we need the government to do all it can to create jobs and to wisely spend our tax dollars, but the question is, what can we do to help ourselves -- and each other?
The truth is, we are hardwired to seek out unshakable meaning. The longing for necessariness is in our DNA. In "The Fourth Instinct: The Call of the Soul," I wrote about this part of ourselves -- the instinct that compels us all to go beyond our impulses for survival, sex and power, and drives us to expand the boundaries of our caring beyond our solitary selves to include the world around us: "The call to community is not a hollow protestation of universal brotherhood. It is the call of our Fourth Instinct to make another's pain our own, to expand into our true self through giving. This is not the cold, abstract giving to humanity in general and to no human being in particular. It is concrete, intimate, tangible."
This is what the soldiers Junger wrote about were missing when they left the battlefield. And we can create it in our own lives. If we choose to. Evidence shows that when we look outward, reach out and connect -- especially in times of trouble -- good things follow.
We're not going to be able to face the perils of this new economic landscape alone. And those of us who are under less of a threat need to reach out to those who have already been ensnared. When soldiers talk about being in a foxhole, it's always about who they are in the foxhole with -- it's not a place you want to be by yourself. There's not just strength in numbers -- there's purpose and meaning if we reach out and connect.
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What Soldiers at War Can Teach Us About Surviving Financial Warfare | Economy
(c) 2010 Arianna Huffington