Every Friday we’ll take a break from topical posts and will post some random personal thoughts.
The Hunger Games – New Film, Old Concept
Few things grab attention more quickly than a public scuffle. You remember how it went in Junior High. Someone yells “Fight!” and all other business stops, heads turn, crowds gather. We never seem to outgrow it, hence our fascination with public feuds, ongoing debates, or celebrity splits. Say what you like about our evolution from primal to sophisticated, we still love a good brawl.
So today a fight film opens that sounds pretty dark but admittedly interesting. The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic story of young men and women conscripted into gladiator-like combat, the ultimate Survivor show because only one of the final competitors comes out alive. It’s televised, and in a twisted American Idol style, supporters of the contestants band together to send their favorite warrior food, gifts, even medical aid, all in hopes that the one they’re rooting for doesn’t die. Like I said, dark stuff.
But the subject of the commentary is, as always, where the real darkness lies. Conflict intrigues us, even as it repels. What idiocy, I say to myself when glancing at the lurid headlines of a sleazy tabloid at the checkout line, then I sneak a longer glance at the body of the article to find out why He did that to Her when we all know She never really got over Them. Glad I’m above this sort of thing.
Still, what’s amusing at the checkout line can be lethal in other areas of life. How often do church splits happen because too many people involved themselves in a quarrel that could have been settled between two parties, without long term damage, if only everyone else had minded their own business? How many marriages died because too many friends and family members, enticed by the spectacle of a conflict, jumped in with well- meant but ill-advised interference? The pump we experience witnessing or even joining a fight is a poor tradeoff for the casualties in the aftermath, casualties we may mourn without asking ourselves how we might have contributed to them.
I know this gets tricky. There is a time to speak, as Solomon said, and standing up and being counted can be a mandate. There’s a time for confronting, rebuking, or adding your voice to a controversy because you feel strongly about it one way or another. That’s good, and none of us wants to feel cowardly in the future because of silence in the present. But then there’s plain old meddling, or goading quarreling people on for our own entertainment, or encouraging a controversy by showing our interest in it. It’s akin to listening to gossip, then telling ourselves we’ve done nothing wrong since we ourselves didn’t do the talking, all the while forgetting that if there’s no listener, there’s no talebearing. There is, in short, a sinfulness in finding pleasurable distraction in other people’s contentions, whether they’re divorcing celebrities or friends in an argument.
I’m watching friends argue as I write this, a private matter but an important one. I’m participating to a point as I feel the need to, but hopefully no more or less than integrity requires. And I’m getting a little faint in the process. It’s funny on late night tv; interesting in films. But in real life it’s plain sad, though real life is, let’s face it, full of conflict. Hopefully we can see good fruit come from it when it happens, and hopefully we’ll all be given the grace to know when to jump in, avoid, or simply pray from the sidelines.
Meanwhile, The Hunger Games looks interesting but I think I’ll pass. Got enough real life drama going on, so re-runs of Dick van Dyke sound more appealing this weekend. Hope yours is terrific, and blessed. Thanks for being here.