A “hunger” for justice

“What, a movie about being hungry?” I hadn’t read the “Hunger Game” books, so the first time I heard about them I was a little confused by the title:). But, tonight I went the movie to see for myself what all of the excitement was about.

Disclaimer: I haven’t read the books, but I just started, so if I mess something up/use the wrong name for a character please excuse me! Oh, and potential spoiler-alert for all of you still waiting to see it you may or may not want to read this!

In the movie I was struck by a comment “President Snow” made. At the point in the movie he was talking with the game master (I honestly don’t remember his name–just shows I need to keep reading the book:)) right after Katniss made an “appearance to remember” before the elite officials and shot an arrow zooming past their heads, pinning an apple that was sitting on top of a roasted pig, perfectly to the wall. “President Snow” says in response to the game master’s enthusiasm about her stunning performance, something to the effect of “hope is always stronger than fear.” For this reason, “President Snow” says that the game master must do whatever he can to control it and extinguish the flame of hope that Katniss is beginning to spark.

This scene struck me in a particular way because I think we can see oppression, fear and hope played out in similar ways in our society today. We can see those in control of the power and the wealth in our country today acting out in fear as a response to their privilege or power being challenged.

In the new “papers, please” anti-immigrant bills passed in states like Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, we see fear of the “other” taking all of those “American jobs” so many of us are willing to take, such as working as a day-laborers picking watermelons, cleaning bathrooms or washing dishes (please note my sarcasm here). They do the dirty jobs none of us want, and then we spend all of our time passing bills to get them to “self-deport”, losing billions of dollars, and more importantly losing the livelihoods of immigrant communities and families in the process.

We can hear the cries of the oppressed being ignored when we hear responses to the death of Trayvon Martin like Newt Gingrich’s saying in response to President Obama that “Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong”. The question we should be asking is why people are trying to avoid or even deny the fact that race plays a very large role in determining how much privilege or power a person has? Something is fundamentally wrong with our unwillingness to challenge white supremacy as it continues to exist in our nation today.

But, in the midst of all of this chaos and despair, we can find hope. Just as Katniss stood up against an oppressive system at the end of the movie by defying the “rules of the game”,  we too must join in the struggle that brings hope. We can join in difficult, yet necessary conversations on race, power and privilege. We can join in on rallies for just treatment of immigrants and other issues of injustice in this country. We can indeed show that hope is much greater than fear; we can like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said when citing the prophet Amos “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream!”. Only then can we be “beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 5: 9-10).

We can, and we must, thirst for righteousness and hunger for justice for our communities, for this nation and for the world.

And, that I believe, is something worth working up an appetite for:)

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