Next week, the final instalment of The Hunger Games comes out at the cinemas. For those who are unaware of this hugely successful franchise, it’s dystopian fiction, set in a world where one oppressing power (The Capital) controls the rest of the country (divided into 13 Districts, based on their natural resources). And where there once was a War, with catastrophic loss of lives, after which the Capital decided that, as a reminder to the people of Panem, each year 2 young men and women from each District would be selected to participate in The Hunger Games. They would be pitted against each other and against the other Tributes from other Districts, in a fight to the death in artificially created arenas, and this spectacle would be watched by the rest of the country as reality TV.
As gory and brutal as it may appear to be, The Hunger Games is Not about glorifying war. Rather, it is about how one young woman, Katniss Everdeen, is suddenly thrust into an environment where she must fight first for her own survival, and later for the survival of the people who follow her. Katniss, the reluctant leader of the Rebellion, often has not a clue as to what she’s meant to do to lead her people. She has a team of propagandists directing her, but clearly she’s not comfortable with being yet again someone’s puppet on a string, and just wants an end to the tradition of The Hunger Games, and for Peace to take its place. But, puppet she must be, and so Katniss gets tossed about from pillar to post, in a power struggle between President Snow of The Capital and President Alma Coin of District Thirteen, where the rebellion is brewing.
The moral of the story is not so much that War is a bloody futile exercise; that fact is clearly evident from the books by Suzanne Collins. Ironically, it is about how one must fight, quite literally, to balance the scales and restore Peace to the land again. How a people divided and oppressed by one power, can be brought back together as a united front to fight this injustice, by the very same vehicle used to divide and oppress them – the televised gladiator spectacle that is The Hunger Games.
The reason I’ve chosen to write about The Hunger Games, so close after the fresh tragedy of the Paris attacks by Islamic State, is not to promote the movie, or to justify starting a war, but quite the opposite. Like much of the rest of the world, I’m struggling to understand just what happened on November 13th 2015 in Paris. And why it happened.
In The Hunger Games, the Rebellion fought for freedom from oppression, and to put a stop to the barbaric tradition of sending human sacrifices to The Capital each year. It fought to regain Peace for everyone. It tried passive, non-violent means, it tried negotiation, but The Capital responded with violence instead. Remember this, before you get too engrossed in the film and forget what all the fighting is about: the Rebellion was never proactive in its actions against The Capital, it was reactive.
Those terrorists claiming to be acting for IS have only one objective – to kill as many innocent lives as they can, and then either blow themselves up or get killed, so they can go to Heaven and each be rewarded by the loving ministrations of 7 virgins. (Frankly, this must be Hell, not Heaven, as I can’t imagine 1 virgin in her right mind, let alone 7, wanting to service such imbeciles). They’re not liberating anyone from oppressive regimes. They’re not fighting to free their country from any barbaric customs – if anything, they’re perpetuating those barbaric customs by their very actions. They’ve been brainwashed into thinking of the Western World as The Enemy That Must Be Destroyed. They’ve been taught by some twisted souls that anyone who is not for them is against them and must be annihilated. Throw Islam into the mix, give it a good stir, add a hefty dose of paranoia, a generous dollop of stupidity, a barrelful of empty promises of Heaven and all the sex you can get (why is it always about sex?), and feed the toxic concoction to these terrorists, and they think they’re doing it in the name of Allah. Boy, have they been well and truly fooled.
Not content to stay in their own country, they’ve decided to take their war to the countries they feel have insulted them. And not content to fight army against army, they’ve decided to go for the Coward’s Punch – gunning down innocent civilians in public places. A stadium, a bar, a restaurant, a concert hall, the streets of Paris…hardly places for serious discussions about War and for mobilising troops.
Let’s not forget Lebanon and Syria either…and who knows what other country these terrorists have their sights set on next? The world waits with bated breath to see how the affected governments react.
An eye for an eye…that might be their argument. But an eye for an eye soon leads to the land of the blind.
The solution is simple. The solution is Peace. Lay down ALL weapons, that’s right, folks, step away from those evil, nasty things. Throw them in the bin. Learn to love your neighbour, instead. What Man doesn’t understand, he fears. And what Man fears, he tries to destroy. So, for goodness’ sake, get to know the people around you, make friends with them, embrace their different cultures/race/religion/sexual orientation/dietary preferences/etc. And then you will find there’s actually nothing to be afraid of.
If we all held hands instead of guns, there would be no need for weapons of any kind, mass destruction of otherwise. Well, there would only be 2 weapons – LOVE and PEACE. I believe we can all live very happily with that, don’t you?
(Artwork showing various dystopian cities by Belgian artist Jonas De Ro, seen on DeviantArt).