‘The Hunger Games’ Are Real
Posted by April 26, 2012on
The Hunger Games movie is a current Hollywood phenomenon. Millions are flocking to see the exciting story of a young woman who triumphs over starvation, desperation and the cruelty of a violent, oppressive government by her skill, intelligence and beauty. The story, of course, is fiction. But the backstory to The Hunger Games is tragically all too real in our present world. Are there solutions to the real-world Hunger Games?
One of my daughters saw the The Hunger Games movie and told me it was really exciting. There wasn’t time for me to see the film before I left on a long trip through Africa, but I decided I would read the book while traveling, so I downloaded the novel to my Kindle before I left.
Reading The Hunger Games in Africa
Ironically, I started reading the book in the Congo and finished it in Rwanda. Why is that ironic? If you don’t already know, read a little farther.
The novel is certainly well-written and exciting. But as I followed Katniss Everdeen through her story—from the misery and hunger in district 12, where she struggled to feed her family by poaching, to the merciless ordeal of the Hunger Games, where teens are forced by an oppressive government to kill other teens in order to win a televised game and survive, to trying to figure out her feelings for two different boys who offered different qualities in the middle of the horror and chaos—I kept thinking to myself: This is real life today for thousands of teens and preteens.
My thought was confirmed at the end of the book in the blurb about the author. It states that she “continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age.”
It is a sad reality that in quite a few countries in the world, children have to begin working or scavenging quite young to contribute to the family food supply. And in several nations involved in armed conflict, young teens and even preteens are “drafted” into armies or paramilitary organizations.
A recent UNICEF report gives a list of countries where this has occurred in the last decade. The list includes Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda.
I just traveled through three of those countries and saw some of the destruction firsthand. Hundreds of thousands of young people have been affected. In some cases boys are forced to kill to avoid being killed themselves, and young girls are forced into becoming sex slaves for soldiers. It’s repugnant.
Sure, it’s exciting and fascinating to watch or read about The Hunger Games as fiction in a dystopian future. But it’s shocking and depressing to hear about such horrors in our dystopian present.
Why would adults abuse children that way?
The answer to that question is tragic but not complicated: Adults use child soldiers because they want to win. They want to defeat their enemies or to win power and wealth, and they decide “the end justifies the means.” So young people, who should be nurtured and protected, become nothing more than objects, the disposable means to an end.
The Proverbs state, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Actions can seem reasonable to human beings in given circumstances, but the results are often tragic and horrific.
This is nothing new. Human history is a litany of terrible abuses of human beings of all ages at the hands of other human beings. We sometimes speak of “man’s inhumanity to man,” but if we’re honest, it’s all too human to be abusive toward our fellow human beings. The Roman Plautus wrote some 2,200 years ago: homo homini lupus—man is a wolf to his fellow man.
Is there a solution?
We can all be grateful that there is a solution, and one that is sure to come—in time. But the end of the real-life Hunger Games won’t happen as a result of UN action or better education or more “humanity” toward people. In fact, the solution will come as a result of less humanity.
Paul’s epistle to the Galatians underscores what comes naturally to human beings, and it’s not pretty. The list includes hatred, jealousy, sexual obsessions, rage, ambition and selfishness (5:19-20).
Man won’t stop being a wolf to man until that fundamental human nature changes. And it finally will change on a worldwide scale with the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
One of the promises that accompany Christ’s return is a change to the human heart: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
The cruel, insensitive, selfishly hard heart we see so often today will be replaced by kindness, care, compassion—in a word, love. This level of love can only come from the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:22-23 describes the wonderful results—the fruit of the Spirit of God in action.
When that change occurs, the real-life Hunger Games will finally come to an end—forever.
Joel Meeker is the regional director for French-language areas for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He travels and works frequently in Africa.
For more about man’s inhumanity and God’s solution, see: