Sebastian Junger asks: Is our social divisiveness exacerbating PTSD in our veterans?
There’s nothing quite like a provocative TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) talk to force us to confront different ways of thinking about the world around us. Wenatchee, you will recall, hosted a local TED event in 2014 that explored “connecting the dots” in our community to improve resilience.
Wenatchee World reader Julie Banken recently encouraged me to check out Sebastian Junger’s talk, “Our lonely society makes it hard to come home from war.” In his talk Junger, the award-winning author and war correspondent, explored the explosion of cases of post-traumatic stress among active duty military members.
American veterans, he points out, are returning home to a bitterly divided society where the political parties on a daily basis accuse each other of treason — of being enemies of the state and undermining the security of the nation. Furthermore, veterans see racial injustice and income inequality that are rising. Ours is a society in turmoil, and hatred is on the rise.
In earlier conflicts, such as World War II, veterans came home to a much more unified nation and he theorizes that it was easier for veterans to reintegrate in that more supportive environment.
Veterans, he said, are coming home and seeing the country with fresh eyes. “No wonder they’re depressed,” said Junger. “No wonder they’re scared. ”We ask ourselves whether we can save the vets,” Junger added. “I think the real question is whether we can save ourselves.”
I think Junger is on to something very important with this talk. We have to rediscover a deeper sense of community in which we look out for each other, listen and try to understand and value viewpoints that are different from our own.
The hatred that is growing in this country today threatens our survival as a nation.