Lessons Learned from the Hunger Games

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is a cross between “Ender’s Game” and “Twilight”. A strong, independent teenage girl lives in an oppressive, post-apocalyptic earth. She ends up as a contestant in the Hunger Games, a yearly battle royale in which the Capital forces young people from it’s subjugated outer districts to kill each other. It’s graphic, exciting stuff.

What starts as a personal struggle to save her family turns into an all out, continent encompassing civil war. Without too many spoilers, I want to talk about the revolutionary, down-with-the-system part of the book. Specifically, a phrase from the second book, “When you’re in the arena, remember who the enemy is”.

The end goal of all organizing is to create a healthier, more just world for our communities and future generations. This is simple, but all the stuff in the middle gets pretty sticky– campaigns turn into personal vendettas, differences of opinion and disagreements of strategy become political fiascos within communities. Miscommunications become interracial tensions, then violence. As we try to survive, we end up fighting with ourselves and each other, and alienating people who should be allies. Because we lose track of the enemy.

The enemy is never a person, or even a group of people. The enemy is a system of oppression that forms whenever people try to consolidate power for themselves. Does that sound complicated? Remember, Katniss tried to make one person her enemy. And as bad as he was, replacing him with someone else wasn’t the answer.

Still confused? Don’t wait for the movie. Go read the book!

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