It seems to make little sense. Combat, being shot at, losing best friends — all encompassed in what we know of as war — is not an experience one would think soldiers could miss.
But often, they do go through that, often the worst experience imaginable, come home back to their family, their country, and miss the war. “How does that work?” asks Sebastian Junger, a legendary journalist who has covered war for almost 20 years, in a recent TED Talk.
Reflecting on his experience documenting a small U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan along with his friend, photojournalist Tim Hetherington, Junger perfectly captures the reason: Brotherhood.
Troops serving overseas don’t necessarily enjoy being shot at, Junger explains, but they do enjoy the incredible bonds that can only come from those terrifying moments. Relating to the audience a conversation he had with one soldier when asked if he missed anything about the war, the soldier said “I miss almost all of it.”
“He’s not a psychopath,” Junger said. “He doesn’t miss killing people. He’s not crazy. He doesn’t miss getting shot at and seeing his friends get killed. What is it that he misses? I think what he missed is brotherhood. He missed, in some ways, the opposite of killing. What he missed was connection to the other men he was with.”
For civilians, it can be a hard concept to understand, but Junger is able to explain it extremely well.
His full talk is worth watching in full:
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