The official Sebastian Junger community
I appreciate your point of view and it was one I shared many years ago. However, as I've educated myself more on the various aspects of the military (the training, the psychology, the sociology, the conflicts), I've felt my perspective shift to embrace a broader perspective. Given that expanded awareness, I feel compelled to speak to your points.
When I was a kid I used to wonder why we didn't just put the two (or more) arguing world leaders in a boxing ring and let them duke it out, rather than using largely politically uninvolved second parties to carry out their battle of egos. I still think that's a good idea. Settling differences with words would be the best-case scenario, and I don't believe there’s anyone who doesn’t agree with that. One day, perhaps, we'll have evolved enough to be able to consistently rely on verbal mediation. That day is not today, unfortunately.
Sebastian is perfectly capable of expressing his own views on this and doesn't require defending; however, I must say that he certainly wasn't responsible for labeling Afghanistan a war. Additionally, physicality in its extremes is, in and of itself, testosterone-fueled ("macho", sure), adrenaline-fueled, a chemical shake coded into our bodies for the purposes of survival. Soldiers aren't coerced into aggression. They volunteer to receive training on how to best protect our country, its allies, and other unprovoked nations and peoples and keep foreign and domestic enemies from murdering, beheading, bombing, assassinating, infiltrating, propagandizing, enslaving, torturing, and creating an atmosphere of terror. And you better believe training for those situations requires aggressiveness.
Many people in the world today are without direction or hope that their personal situations will improve. They don’t all join military factions. Hopelessness is not a prerequisite for military service. On the contrary, it is the hope for a better life that seems to compel young men and women to seek out the structure and discipline this training provides; and most will tell you that their personal situations, morals, and self-confidence were all improved due to their involvement with the military, regardless of whether or not they become career soldiers or officers. And yes, war requires training. And yes, war preparedness requires brute force, tactical knowledge, and – believe it or not – utterly civilized diplomacy. In war zones, many individual military units meet with locals and elders on a regular basis to attempt to forge trusting, positive relationships. Schools are built, infrastructure is developed from nothing, or enhanced. Girls are allowed to be educated. Mines and bombs are diffused for the safety of all. Patrols protect and serve, while playing with Afghani children and dispensing candy and toys.
I wince at your question about whether or not Sebastian will be comforted by “cheers” for his speaking engagement. I sincerely hope that he and Tim do feel proud of their accomplishments in documenting the lives of these men. I would also humbly suggest, on their behalf, that the only true cheer they have taken from this experience are the deep friendships they have made and the hope that the description of war they share will give people insights they did not previously possess. From that point forward, the degree of rumination, of impact, of respect or loathing is up to the individual.
Your requests for financial compensation as a taxpayer are being laid at the feet of the wrong person. Your state and federal representatives are responsible for allocating taxpayer dollars to support foreign conflicts; and, to be perfectly honest, you may not know it but you probably voted for a few of them. The assertion that journalism that you find personally offensive does not deserve monetary compensation is ridiculous. It is a job, and, in fact, a noble one.
I would like to ask you – respectfully, but pointedly - if you have read the book you’re criticizing, because I do find it difficult to believe that you have. No glamorization of anything exists within its pages, believe me. I can’t imagine any experience further from the concept.
I guess I’ve said my peace, pun intended.
I'm glad you posted! Quite unfortunately, Lindsey, who wrote the initial response, deleted her post and may have even left the forum, as I can't find her name among the members now.
Well, as you can see I tried to be as fair to Eric as I could be. I feel guilty, to tell the truth, for listening as long as I did. I don't want to continue being civil too long to someone who evidently has a hurtful agenda here; I have been concerned about it being interpreted as any sort of approval or endorsement of his views.
Offering an alternate viewpoint makes things interesting, and it helps us hone and clarify our own opinions. I'm not threatened by opposing ideas because I know my own mind. However, honest debate for the purposes of mutual education and enlightenment is obviously not what's going on here - on Memorial Day Weekend of all times - and I believe this now qualifies as trolling.
I share your kind impressions of Sebastian. He does show himself to be an incredibly earnest and gracious person, which is another reason I found Eric's unfounded attempts at character assassination on Sebastian's own site so troubling and insulting.
Thanks again, Clare,