Restrepo is a great documentary about soldiers in Afghanistan. Sebastian Junger spoke in a John F. Kennedy Library forum. He explained why young men are particularly disadvantaged in transitioning back to civilian life after experiencing war. He pointed out that the average 18 to 20 year-old guy controls very little in his life; girls are after the older guys, his parents’ socio-economic status is controlled by them yet it affects his status, his physical appeal is a matter of DNA, and he is at the bottom of the wage scale so he has no money. If that young man goes to war he is part of a tight unit that collectively controls its destiny. Once he comes back to society he’s back in the same powerless position he left and it’s a hard spot to be in.
I’d like to think I’m a pacifist. I wasn’t feeling peaceful when I watched parts of the documentary. If you’ve ever been part of a group completely reliant on all of its member’s individual contributions for collective survival you’ll be able to identify with the soldiers. If you remember dancing in your youth and cutting up with your friends, you’ll identify with them too. I was compelled to purchase a copy of Restrepo from Amazon for my local library because I’m hopeful that it will help people better understand where our soldiers have been and why it’s so hard for them to come back.