Like the majority of the United States, we watched The Hunger Games this weekend in theaters. It was a packed house (matinee prices, baby!), and we were surprised to see people there: young and old, Islander and tourist alike. Ryan and I, and our friends, had no idea what the movie was about, only being told, “Oh my gosh, you would loooove the books. I can’t believe you haven’t read them yet!”. We sat eagerly in our seats, waiting for the show to start.
What we watched was a beautifully filmed movie with a disturbing plot. I literally soaked my shirt with nervous sweat (gross, I know), watching the “game” unfold.
–Caution, if you haven’t read the books or seen the movie and don’t want anything spoiled, don’t read any farther :)–
There’s so much to unpack from a two hour session in the movie theater. How about the way The Hunger Games truly reminded me first of what I would imagine as a futuristic Roman Empire? How about how I couldn’t figure out if this was a movie about justice or if it was a movie so people would just watch the killings of 23 children.. I figured it out as the movie went on and I was really impressedIt’s kind of unreal how a book written on a fifth grade reading level can instigate thoughts about subjects like justice far better than a book written for adults. The truth is, we all want adventure. We all want justice and we all want hope. That, more than any other parallel connects with my heart from the movie The Hunger Games. Hope.
The books are written on a plot line such as this: Because of the sins of their forefathers, children from 12 districts must fight to the death in something they call “The Hunger Games”. It’s televised; it’s huge. While some not involved in the games themselves might suggest that to be a part of the games is an honor, it certainly doesn’t appear to be to any of the selected-at-random children representing their districts. The story follows the first-ever volunteer from District 12 (who volunteered only so her sister wouldn’t have to fight), Katniss.
While at first glance, the story seems disturbing and odd, when all is said and done, it is truly a movie about hope and justice. In the course of watching this movie, a sense of justice was so awakened within me that I could only grasp my fists and fight back tears (not an exaggeration). There is one particular scene (which I am told is much longer in the book) that sums up much of what I am referring to. There is a younger girl, Rue, from another district, who is killed in the games. As the nation watches, her family and friends watch in their district (11). What follows is total upheaval. And, of course, its totally understandable! Injustice to its core, people! A smart, kind, cute little girl is killed for no reason. Innocent blood is shed.
While I cannot find the video of the movie scene where District 11 begins to rebel, why don’t you do a little google search. Type in: Haiti Election 2011. That’s what I was thinking about. Through my mind, a huge amount of history circulated. It’s not a new concept, people rebelling because of an injustice. Its not even something I am not aquanited with. When you google that Haitian election, think of the things you might have thought of them as you watched them rebel on CNN. As they began to light buses on fire or march in the streets, think of what you thought of them. It’s embarrasing to think what I thought. Irrational. Dangerous. Mindless. Uneducated. It wasn’t until I sat with these people, heard their stories and lived with them that I began to even understand the very basic amount of injustice they are subjected to daily. Educated, but can’t get a visa to go out and no job in-country. Sick, but since they are Haitian, they will just have to wait. Poor, and since they are so, they do not deserve an education. Orphaned, and because they are, no one will care if they are sold. Thirsty, but they are just Haitians…does anyone care if their water gives them cholera?
It happens today. It happened before we were born. Maybe it will always happen. But, its real. Injustice will continue to reign until we begin to stand up to it. For me to put it in really practical terms… we believe it is an injustice that people don’t have clean water. The crisis is huge. You’ve read about the need. People don’t have water because of a cast system, because their government won’t help them, because people don’t take time to educate them… day in and day out people are dragged into injustice. I believe it could be said that bringing clean water is one of the most tangible forms of justice today. As I watched The Hunger Games, my heart was so broken in thinking about the things I have witnessed just in the past year. I was filled with questions about the world and of myself. Did I do enough? Did I plead their cause? The task can seem quite daunting.
Here was a movie theater full of people like us. Many thinking to themselves: My gosh, I am so glad we don’t live in a society that would endorse such treatment of children! It’s true. The United States has done a good job (in some ways) to protect human life. The do not run a game once a year where 23 children die for no good reason. But, I can’t help but think about this audience. They sighed and teared up when Rue from District 11 was killed; their hearts raced as Katniss volunteered herself to participate in the games; they rooted for the underdog; they became so involved with the characters’ desire for survival, for her own pursuit of justice. I think its great. But, I left the theater thinking What IF people became this passionate about a real injustice? There surely are enough out there.
Hope from The Hunger Games (Watch This)
Hope. That’s the other part, right? This part was meant for evil, but the words are true: The only thing stronger than fear is hope. And, when its not contained? People begin to change. Attitudes begin to move. We begin to believe in the things in the deepest part of our hearts. That’s hope, I think! This hope of believing in your God-given talents, desires and dreams. This is a hope that should not be squashed by not having access to clean water or being sold into slavery. This is a hope that everyone has a right to have. And, yes, an injustice when that right is taken away. I think its ok to get shaken up about it. I am.
Thank goodness there’s a little more to this story. As a believer, this also means that I have something to hope IN. My efforts don’t end with me. Though I am equipped, I will fail. When I fail, Hope will endure. I want to spend my life being a messenger of this hope. I believe there is too much talking and not enough action in various places in society (myself included many times). Let’s start doing something. Let’s start being something. Let that sense of injustice you felt when watching two hours of scripted injustice carry over into your lives. What is it you feel passionate to fight for?
We fight for clean water. We fight for the rights of children to live to see their teens and after. We stand behind women who would rather focus on their small businesses and families than collect water for the entire day. We believe in the family unit who doesn’t have to take their children out of school to collect water. We fight with the people who are tired of their water giving them diseases, preventing them from moving forward. Most of all though, we want our lives to fight for hope. Hope for the Haitians; Hope for the priviledged; Hope for the needy; Hope for all.
Bet you didn’t know my post about The Hunger Games could turn into this…haha. I know!