In The Hunger Games, President Snow and the Gamemakers have created a horrible game based on fear and scarcity. By requiring children to kill each other to the death, he is forcing them to degrade themselves to survive. For it is said that every time one human kills another, it takes a piece of his or her soul. The game is set up where death is the enemy and life is the singular goal. There is no way to actually win the game. Even the winner, as we see with Haymitch as a broken adult champion, has gone through too much on his or her way to the top. The game itself as a structure is evil. The system that is set up requires the players to act immorally against their will. It makes it easy– necessary– to do the wrong thing.
Instead of winning, Katniss and Peta change the game by carving out room for love. The love they have for each other helps them survive, and helps them keep their dignity and humanity. Katniss and Peta’s love is so strong, they refuse to kill each other in order to survive. They chose love over life. By pulling out the berries at the end of the game, they change the game forever. In the evil game, they find goodness and love. In placing life as secondary to love, they are granted life itself. The game is dismantled.
Jesus dying on the cross is a defining moment in the Christian story that reminds us that love has conquered death. Death is no longer the worst thing in the world, but rather a life without love. Before being put to death, Jesus is offered life on several occasions, but he will not play the game. He could have plead guilty in front of Pilate, or answered the taunting by the crowd and saved himself. He knew, however, that love is stronger than death, so he transcended death with his love. Instead of winning the game, he changed the game forever.
In our society, we see many examples of love conquering death and dismantling systems. We also see systems that are set up to make it easy to do the wrong thing. A popular example is the Holocaust. The system that Nazi Germany had set up made it easy– necessary– for soldiers to spend their work day killing people. It became easier to do the wrong thing and perpetuate the system. Acting against the system and acting out would have been a death sentence for a Nazi solider.
Can you think of modern day systems that are broken? That make it easy to act immorally?
How can the game be changed? The system dismantled?