“The Hunger Games” and the Tea Party

Apr 5, 2012

Note: All posts are written with the intention of the Respectful Confrontation Polarity Antidote Philosophy.

I just saw The Hunger Games. I hadn’t read the books. Oh my, it was very intense. My nervous system was so activated!

It’s a powerful film and an amazing metaphor for contemporary society. If you haven’t read the books or seen the movie, here’s a brief description and some of my reflections (I promise I won’t give away anything!).

Katniss FocusesIn the story, you have the people of the Capitol (for the sake of symbolism, let’s call them the 1%) which is decadently wealthy because they have complete control of 12 other districts filled with workers who basically live at poverty wages to support the greed of the people in the Capitol (let’s call them the 99%)

As a way to keep the 99% in their place, the President and leaders of the Capitol force two of the children in each district every year to be part of a competition that is televised throughout all the districts where the winner is the last one alive. Basically they are required to slaughter one another for the entertainment of those in power and as a way to maintain peace.

This huge societal schism and the amount that the poor are expected to sacrifice for the benefit of the few in power is reflective of our current time. There is one moment in the film where the President warns the Game Master not to be too soft on the contestants and those in the poor districts. I paraphrase him:

“Why do we waste our time letting there be one winner every year? Why don’t we just round up 24 kids and slaughter them as a way to keep people in line?” In other words, use fear to manipulate the masses.

He goes on to say: “Because letting one of them live gives these people hope. The only thing more powerful than fear is hope. Not too much hope; that could lead to an overthrow of our power. But just enough hope to make them think that things could be better.”

This is a clear description of how those in power today maintain their greedy ways. By giving people the slightest bit of hope, you can easily manipulate them into sacrificing everything they have for you because you instill in them the belief that they might get out of their poverty and one day be the 1%!

This helped me to understand the Tea Party and those who lobby to cut taxes for the rich, and disempower agencies that would support those who are truly in need. I always found it confusing: how could people who have lost their homes, have no health insurance, no jobs, and continue to lose support from social services and a hope for a good quality of life still be so vehemently against social programs and ensuring that the rich take more ethical and financial responsibility?

How has the 1% and the large corporations managed to get some members in congress and the average citizen to do the dirty work of insuring that they (the 1%) will continue to gain more profit while systematically destroying the environment, social order and the happiness and health of the average worker?

They don’t use fear. Those were the tactics of the Cold War. Since the Cold War, these people in power had to switch to a different strategy: play on the inherent greed in most of us and give us a glimmer of hope that if we continue to support the values and customs of large corporations, maybe one day we too will become the 1%.

If we move to a society where there is more financial equality and government policies that propogate economic and social justice, where less people are starving and more are happier and healthier, there might not be enough for those few to still be multi-billionaires. It seems to me that members of the Tea Party and those who support its doctrines would rather create a world where the possibility to become one of a very few multi-billionaires is more logical, ethical and somehow in alignment with God’s plan than a world where the majority of the population has enough to eat and enjoys a quality of life that is healthy, fair and safe.

There is a Hebrew parable that has always stuck with me:

A Rabbi wants to know what Heaven and Hell look like. God takes him to Hell and shows him a room with a banquet table filled with an abundance of delicious food. He asks God, “How is this Hell?” Then he sees people sitting at the table, reaching for a fork that is too long. They can scoop up the food with the fork but it can’t reach their mouth. They sit at this table for eternity trying to get the food into their mouth. The Rabbi asks to see Heaven. God takes him to another room with a banquet table that is identical to the one in Hell.

The Rabbi is confused. “How is this Heaven?” He then sees people at the table with the same sized forks scoop up their food and, instead of feeding themselves, they feed the person sitting next to them. They will spend eternity feeding each other from this abundance.

Some may call sharing and fair taxation and universal health care and social policies evil. I call it heaven and actually the way to our salvation and evolution.

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