We’re assuming that most of you have heard of The Hunger Games.
The story is set in the not too distant future after the United States has succumbed to an unnamed apocalypse in a nation known as Panem, which is part of what was once the U.S. It is divided into 12 districts controlled by the Capitol in which all of the wealth is concentrated, while those living in the districts live in abject poverty and are not allowed to travel outside.
As a punishment for a rebellion which completely destroyed a 13th district, each district must send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to the Capitol once a year to take part in “The Hunger Games” — a fight to the death in an outdoor arena controlled from the Capitol until there is one survivor. These “tributes” are chosen by lottery each year and candidates may obtain extra food by allowing their names to be put into the lottery multiple times, a practice which is widespread due to the shortage of food in the districts. Boys and girls accept the increased odds of being chosen in order to help their families eat.
Katniss Everdeen is a 16 year-old girl in the 12th district, a coal mining region in what was previously known as the Appalachians. Her father died in a mining accident when she was 11 years-old. She volunteers to be a tribute to protect her little sister whose name was chosen in the lottery and goes on to win the 74th edition of the games.
Due to her rebellious spirit, Everdeen forces a rule change which allowed both she and Peeta Mellark, the boy tribute from her district, to be co-winners.
It is a deeply emotional story and even more so when one looks at it from the perspective of what is going on in the country today.
We have people working full time — many working more than one job who still do not make enough to provide proper food for their families. We have people being injured and dying on the job like Katniss’s father because they no longer have the protections given them by union representation and the very wealthy are working diligently to eliminate the few unions that remain.
Part of the reason that Katniss’s mother was unable to properly provide for her daughters was because after her husband’s death, she fell into a depression for which she received no treatment because the people in the districts do not have proper health care, just as many in this country today.
In the Hunger Games, those in the districts are second class citizens and therefore virtually the only ones to ever be incarcerated for committing crimes, just as poor minorities are in this country today.
The video below draws a powerful comparison between the world of the Hunger Games and what is happening today in this country. While Katniss and Peeta are fictional characters fighting against injustice in a fictional future, they can and should serve as an inspiration to us to fight this kind of injustice today.