I’ve just returned from watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire and aside from the fact that it was a brilliant adaptation of the book, I feel like the girl on fire. Except the fire is not in a twirling skirt, but in my bones. I was awakened to a reality that I have been glimpsing for years but today–today it is more apparent than ever.
For those that haven’t read or seen the movie this will make little sense, but I must say it anyway.
We are the capitol.
I am the capitol.
We like to think we are Katniss, brave and fighting strong, but for most of us, it is not the reality.
We are the ones with outrageous outfits and outrageous amounts of food and a sickening self-absorption. We are the ones obsessed with entertaining ourselves at the cost of others. We revel in opulent surroundings and we ignore the ones hurting around us.
We pretend that there are not people who are hurt and oppressed and dying of hunger when we have so much. We are in the midst of the holiday that is about God coming to this earth and sacrificing his life and we have turned it into a free for all and excuse for more, more and more.
Yes, there is a movement for social justice, but we have so far to go.
We are the Capitol.
We love Katniss because she fights against the powers holding the districts down. She’s willing to give her life to protect the ones she loves. She hurts when the downtrodden are hurt. She self-sacrifices when it is for the betterment of someone else.
How many of us really and truly do that?
We think our enemy is corporations or the government, but our true enemy is not an institution. We are our own worst enemy.
Our greed. Our selfishness. Our gluttony. Our indifference. Our time and money prove our allegiance.
In the movie at an opulent engagement party, the game maker says to Katniss, “If you put your morals aside, you can enjoy yourself.”
That is what we have done in America. We’ve put our morals aside and have been enjoying our lives, ignoring a world that is hurting.
Put your drinks down. Take the masks off. We need saving from ourselves first.
Wake up, friends!
We must first fight to realize and overcome we are the capitol so we can do the true work like Katniss we love so much—saving others in spite of ourselves.
We do not celebrate Katniss by braiding our hair and buying makeup from CoverGirl. We celebrate the beauty that is The Hunger Games by laying down our pride and giving up our lives for the least of these. It is a shame if we take anything else away from this series.
I sit in my suburban house with all of my stuff without all the answers. I don’t have a 12 step program to getting this right. But I do know I’m going to try. I’m asking myself these questions.
What is one thing you can do to wake up from the materialistic culture we’re in?
Who is one person you can reach out to this season?
What is one gift you can buy from an ethical source to help someone else?
What can you say no to buying for yourself this week?
We must be asking these questions of ourselves because, friends, WE. ARE. THE. CAPITOL. and I know we don’t want to be.
Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says
Yes. This is what bothers me most about the Hunger Games books. I find the whole concept super stressful (and even more so when watching the movies!), but the killing and the violence are nothing compared to the simple metaphor for WHO WE REALLY ARE. It would be so easy to sit back and think, “Oh, wow, those people are terrible. Look at the discrepancy between District 12 and the Capitol! That’s AWFUL!” But the truth is, that discrepancy is alive and well in our own, real country. And while we may not drink something to force ourselves to throw up in order to eat more things…we’re pretty darned close. I hear you. 🙁
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Mary, have you watched Catching Fire yet? I found watching the first movie very upsetting but the second one does a great job of not only showing the Capitol’s ways but also the disgust of it. It was so well done and if we go into remembering we are the Capitol it is inspiring to remember who the true enemy is (ourselves). I enjoyed the movie more than the book!
SO GOOD, Amy.
I don’t have anything else to say but YES!
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My husband and I just saw Catching Fire last night and it was intense.
You make such an excellent observation of truth here and I couldn’t agree more. Kind of disgusting, isn’t it? I don’t like it and will continue to rid myself of the junk. So many people don’t get this. They ask me things like, “Do you really think God wants you to give up your stuff?” YES! Absolutely, I do. Plus, I *want* to because I don’t want to be so distracted from what’s important because I’m drowning in stuff and self.
Can’t we see we are a LARGE part of the solution? If we would only SEE.
And when we do become Katniss, we then need to fight of the temptation of Capitol who will come in many, many forms — including friends and other Christians. It is an uphill battle on all fronts.
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Yes, it is an uphill battle! I struggle with the concept that “stuff” is the problem. I mean, certainly, we all need to come up with our good definition of enough. But also, I think ultimately our need for stuff is the problem more than the stuff. Does that make sense? In other words, why do we have what we have and what is the reason for wanting more? I have a bigger house than some, but I can use that to God’s glory through hospitality that others cannot. I think gratefulness and keeping a check on why we have what we have is key too.
Sorry, that reply felt like another post brewing, but I’ve been thinking a lot on this the past few days.
But, related, wasn’t the movie good? If it wasn’t so expensive, I’d go watch it again!
Oh it was awesome. Like you, the first one left me feeling so disturbed. The book was very well written and the movie, in my opinion, wasn’t as good as the first book.
I never read the second book, but my husband did. He said it was very close, with only leaving out a few minor scenes. He agreed, it was a much better done movie then the first. And yes, it was an intense movie. I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time!
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Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout says
I haven’t seen Catching Fire yet, but I remember watching the first movie, watching the little Capitol kids run around with their toy swords and pretending to play Hunger Games, and the extremely indulgent lifestyles of the Capitol residents, and thinking… yep — that’s us. The rest of the world is exploited so we can wear the latest fashions, and our kids play at war on video games while kids in other countries are forced to be child soldiers. It’s just so overwhelming! How do we get off this crazy ride?
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I wish I knew. I think being aware and trying to make better decisions as you go. So, so hard to live in that tension. Our culture is just not set up for anything else.
Emily @ Primitive Roads says
Wow, Amy – I totally agree with your take on The Capitol (and the series). I haven’t seen Catching Fire yet, but I remember being absolutely disgusted while reading the book at what seemed like such endless frivolity. And that frivolity can so invade and erode our lives without us even knowing! Good things to think about…
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Catching Fire did a really good job of showing how bad the frivolity really is. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie even though it brought up a lot of emotion.
Jessi Kolouri says
When I first read the books, this was my thought exactly. The parallels between the Capitol and our life here in America creeped me out, and movies just drive it home. The opulence, the excess, the greed, the disregard for our neighbors. Eerily similar.
I quite enjoyed Catching Fire, but I was disappointed with the on-screen interpretation when Katniss and Peeta were at the President’s house party–too quickly did the film pass over Peeta’s commentary about people starving in the districts while the Capitol folk drank concoctions that allowed them to perpetually eat. It was such a key section in the book! Ah well.
What am I doing in my own life? Like you, I have so far to go. But every choice we make is a step in the right direction. I will not participate in Black Friday, on principle, especially since it keeps extended farther and farther into Thanksgiving. The irony is just gross.
Thank you for this call to action!
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Even though it could have been more, I think the Catching Fire movie did such a great job of showing the distaste for The Capitol.