They say life imitates art…and in the case of the newest Hunger Games instalment, Mockingjay Part II, the real life connection hit a little too hard.
Sometimes I think that I think too much. I can never managed to completely zone out and focus on one thing, I always have a million secondary thoughts chasing around my brain, cross referencing with each other. So when I watch movies, I sometimes have a hard time disconnecting from all those thoughts and just watching the dang movie.
As I’m sure most of you know, the Hunger Games is an extremely popular movie franchise in a dystopian world called Panem. The heroine of the story, Katniss, finds herself the centre of a rebellion…and soon enough, a civil war. The 13 districts, tired of facing an oppressive government are fighting to free the people and establish a democracy at any and all cost.
For myself, as a student of development, the story of this fictional society rings all too true. This past semester, my discussion group had an interesting discussion about democracy. Democracy is considered a vital part of development but political reform comes with consequences and conflict, which makes it a difficult topic to figure out. My peers and I went back and forth for over an hour and couldn’t come to an agreement about a) whether or not these changes can be made without war or b) if the answer to a is no, is that conflict worth it? I still don’t have an answer to this question but the Hunger Games had me thinking about it again.
As I watched the war in the movie unfold, I couldn’t help but cringe. Here I was, sitting in a theatre, on a “sister date” after months of being away from home and watching people kill each other…for entertainment. I don’t know, I guess I just didn’t think it was fun anymore, sitting and watching Katniss fight for her life. It gave me chills to know that thousands of kilometres away, people were hiding out for real, worried about being blown up or tortured, praying that their children won’t be taken away.
The movie continued and I realized something, in the dark of the theatre (while I should have been mindlessly consuming media); there are no winners in war. It doesn’t matter how valiant the cause…war is war. It is violent and dirty, it corrupts good people and makes my heart ache. There are always people who die from being in the wrong place, there are always innocents killed in the crossfire. There are no “good” outcomes. Only ones that are less horrendous.
This post isn’t about violence in the media, nor is it necessarily about being grateful for what have. It’s just something to think about. We were born into a place where we live with freedom from fear, a place that has never known war in our life time. But we do reside in an era of globalization, which means that we cannot close our eyes to the things happening around the world and pretend they don’t affect us, that people we don’t know, don’t matter.
Maybe I should have just watched it and enjoyed it for what it was: a movie. But I can’t, that’s not me. I thought about all the ways it related to the world, to my life. When the movie started showing the refugees fleeing their homes…when it showed their children being bombed (by the “good guys”) in order to gain leverage, all I could think about was the Syrian refugees.
I’ve been pretty quiet about the whole refugee “hot topic” when people bring it up because I do understand both sides of it. Obviously we can’t just leave them there. Refugees do not choose to be born in a war zone. They do not choose to have their religion hijacked by extremists, they do not decide to flee their country for fun. I cannot imagine the horrors the people in the Middle East have faced recently but moreover, I cannot imagine living a nightmare and being told by the world “we won’t help you”.
I also understand the fear of Canadians. Yes, it is going to cost you money. Yes, these are people you do not know. Yes, you are scared that they might bring the war here. But when it comes down to it, yes, they are people. Yes, they matter. Yes, they deserve to have the basic right of living without fear.
In this Christmas season, the Bible story will be read all over the world, thousands if not a million times. But a lesser known part of the story has been all I could think about.
Jesus, as a baby, was a refugee.
Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary received word that the King had ordered all baby boys to be murdered and thus were forced to flee their country in order to save their son. They went to Egypt of all places and keep in mind that the Israelites had quite the history with Egypt. It was probably the last place they wanted to go and the last place they would be welcomed. But they went. Not because they wanted to but because they feared for their lives.
They lived in Egypt for several years. Imagine if they had been turned down at the border. Told “Go home, we don’t want you. We remember what happened the last time we had Israelites in our country”. Jesus could have been one of the children killed during King Herod’s reign. How crazy is that? This Christmas the pastor at my church said the one person he wouldn’t want to be in the Christmas story is the innkeeper that turned them away. I wouldn’t want to be the one to turn away a refugee out of fear. God understands the plight of the Syrian refugees and my only possible response is one of love and of hospitality.
There are no winners in war. But there are heroes. I’m praying that Canadians will live up to our reputation as being the friendliest country in the world, because in some cases, the best hero is the one willing to be a true friend.
As for the Hunger Games, it did sort of have a “happy ending”, as happy as can be after everything the characters had lived through. It was one of my favourite book series when I was in elementary school so maybe I’ll be able to watch it again sometimes and see it just for what it is.
Or maybe not…I think I’d rather think anyways. I certainly learn a lot that way.
-Until next time,