Running, Fighting, and Thinking for Freedom
By Amy Willis
If you wanted to explore what the concept of freedom really means, how would you go about it? If you’re author Sebastian Junger, you hit the road, on foot. In this episode, Junger joins EconTalk host Russ Roberts to talk about his latest book, Freedom. The book recounts a 400 mile journey Junger undertook with some friends, and the lessons he learned along the way. Roberts describes Freedom as an extended meditation on a very long walk, Junger as “high speed vagrancy.”
We’d like to hear what you took from this week’s conversation. You can respond to our prompts in the comments below, and/or use them to start your own conversation offline. You could also drop us a line at email@example.com to share your thoughts anytime.
1- Early in the conversation, Junger asserts, “Freedom is a misused word. It’s been bastardized in the political conversation, dragooned into service for all kinds of nefarious purposes.” What does he mean by this? How is the word misused?
2-While Junger does not characterize himself as meditative or philosophical, he nonetheless recounts several lessons he learned on his journey. Which did you find most interesting, and why?
3- Junger places a lot of emphasis on freedom and balance- loyalty to the group in exchange for freedom. He claims one can achieve “a great freedom through an even greater loyalty.” What does this mean, and what role does threat to oneself play in this balance? Roberts and Junger agree we can’t say we owe NOTHING to society, but what DO we owe?
4- What is the relationship of violence and fighting to freedom, according to Junger, and how does this differ in humans as compared to other mammals? Why did he title the sections of his book Run, Fight, and Think?
5- Roberts and Junger discuss the “wake-up calls” America has received so far in this century, including the 2008 Financial Crisis and the attacks on 9/11. Roberts confesses his concern regarding “the thin veneer of civilization.” How much do you share Roberts’ concern… Have we become more or less “civilized” over recent decades? Has politics really become more “bloodsport” in the past 10-20 years? Explain.