Luxuries

20 Jan

This still is from upcoming film The Hunger Games. It is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, which I only just got down to reading. The novel is well-written enough for YA fiction. It is the themes that I find most gripping and can’t seem to get away from. Mainly, the idea of what you’d be pushed to do in a time of crisis when regular rules of ethics no longer seem to apply.

Here, Effie Cook introduces Katniss, district representative at the annual Hunger Games. Katniss volunteered to take the place of her younger sister, whose name was selected by lottery. All tribunes are thrown into a Survivor-like scenario – only, for them, it is a fight to the death. In a post-apocalyptic era, the central city of Capitol holds the Games to maintain tight and manipulative control over the other districts.

In the trailer, Peeta, fellow tribune and baker’s son who is more well-off than most in Katniss’ mining district, says: I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show [the Capitol] that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me.

To which Katniss, living from hand to mouth each day to provide for her family, responds: I just can’t afford to think like that.

Many fans laud Peeta as the noble one who holds on to higher motives of identity preservation and rebellion against dictatorship, but this quote by Gandhi that’s been knocking about in my head for the past year keeps coming back:

There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.

Which made me realise that the ability to pontificate, hypothesize and come to thoughtful big-picture conclusions about humanity and existence is essential, but also… a luxury which we are often barely aware of. Not that we are barely aware of this ability. Rather, we are ignorant of how blessed we are to be able to moralise, which often surfaces only after our basic needs are sufficiently fulfilled.

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