A Hunger for Violence

So, the family went and saw the final Hunger Games movie yesterday evening, Mockingjay, Part II. As a conclusion to the series, it was satisfying if a bit predictable. After all, we all know the bad guys have to die and the “good girl” lives “happily ever after”. The one “decision point” in the movie was only mildly suspenseful, as they gave a HUGE amount of clues as to what was going to happen. As the remainder of this post is about what occurs at the end of the film, I’m going to give the standard *SPOILER* space in case you’d rather not know. For those who have seen it, or don’t care one way or the other, press on…

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So, I found it interesting that the decision was really a choice between two violent acts. Violence is often considered inevitable, especially in movies of this type. Is she going to kill Snow or is she going to kill Coin? Basically, who is she going to take revenge on? The guy who essentially ruined her life, or the lady who (inadvertently) killed her sister and is likely to be as big a tyrant as Snow was. Of COURSE it’s pretty obvious she’s going to do the “right” thing (especially since Snow is going to die soon of a terminal malady anyway). But is it really “right” or is just Hollywood “right”. Do we REALLY have situations where violence is the ONLY answer, or are there ways to think outside the “violence box”, and come up with some solutions that don’t involve killing people? While this is “just a movie”, it greatly mirrors our struggles with terrorists, rampant gunmen, etc. Do we just kill them because “that’s all they understand”, or can there be alternate solutions?

I ran these thoughts past Jen and she gave me some good insights into how Katniss was feeling at the time she made her decision (She’s read the books). Katniss was simply “done” at this point. She was TIRED of the fight, tired of being the “face of the resistance” and always trying to figure out what the “right” thing to do was with everyone pulling her in different directions and trying to make her their puppet on a string. So, yes, she COULD have thought of alternate solutions (rather than just killing one of them), but she gave up. It was too HARD to continue STRIVING for peace.

This brings up a good point. Violence is really only ever a SHORTCUT solution to doing real WORK in people’s lives. It’s easier to kill or “put away” criminals rather than working WITH them (and their victims) to rehabilitate, build and restore relationships. It’s easier to BOMB the terrorists than to try and sit down with them and VALIDATE their claims of how we (our country’s foreign policy) have damaged their lives, and make an attempt to put things RIGHT.

Katniss took the easy way out. Easier to just take out Coin rather than trying to “fight” her over the long term with words and ideas (an area Katniss was never really good at, and was always coached through). Non-violent peacemaking is HARD WORK. Many people think pacifists want to take “the easy way out” by just letting their enemies “win”. But no, that’s not true. We don’t want to take the SHORTCUT, but to do the work to forge peace that doesn’t depend on the destruction of life. That’s NOT easy, it’s HARDER. Violence comes easy to ALL of us, even to noble “heroes” like Katniss Everdeen, who showed over and over she HATED all the killing. But in the end, she just had had enough. She became a bit more like her enemy than she would probably care to admit. Thankfully, circumstances took her out of the political ring altogether (she had played the part they wanted her to play), and so she was able to have that “happily ever after”, at least as far as movies go. But I wonder if she often thought, “Did I really HAVE to kill her?”

We should ask that question BEFORE we agree with policies that kill first and ask questions later. Do we REALLY need to respond this way, or are their OTHER solutions (harder, longer, costlier moneywise, yes) to the violent solution? Will we support the hard work for peace or give in to our hunger for violence?

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