Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mockingjay Fever: Learning to Educate Ourselves

"This is going to be just like Twilight," was what one of my friends said the night before we went to go see The Hunger Games. Now, I am willing to admit that there is a lot of hype around the best-selling novel and the film adaption. However, comparing The Hunger Games to Twilight is a gross offense. Mainly because The Hunger Games is actually a decent book with substance to it. However, what The Hunger Games has done is brought into question the ethical nature of such a violent movie.

Some family and friends that I talked to expressed concerns about the desensitizing effects that such as movie can have on a person: most importantly, young adolescents. Understanding their concerns about the film, I was also quick to respond by asking them if they had read the book or looked up a film synopsis.

"No, I haven't."


 Many times, people make rash assumptions or are easily persuaded by false, sensationalized information because they are too willing to rely on word of mouth, instead of  grabbing a book or a computer to seek the truth themselves. Though I know that such censorship happens in both secular and religious groups, my personal experience is out of a Christian background, as I grew up in a Christian home. At my house, we weren't allowed to read books like Harry Potter and I could only read Twilight after I did some serious research on the novel (which, if you ask me, was a waste of my time in retrospect). Their reason for censoring my reading of books such as Harry Potter and Twilight was because of scripture condemning witchcraft (Galations 5: 19-21).

While some may believe that my parents censoring me was a terrible transgression, there were more books that they did allow me to read rather than did not. Their concern was well meant, and what I learned from them is that I need to inform myself about what I am reading; that I need to be ethically concise of what I feed my mind. That's why I carefully read abstracts or research books before I read them.

If you read The Hunger Games, you will find out that the novel is dystopian fiction that illustrates how a corrupt government enacts severe hegemony over the rest of the nation (the twelve districts). This government conducts the Hunger Games every year to keep the people of Panem from ever trying to revolt, again. The Hunger Games, in both the book and film, is not a good thing. No one rejoices over having to be a part of it, and the tragic deaths of the young tributes of Panem are not taking lightly. Their deaths are felt with deep sorrow.

If anything, The Hunger Games calls us to question the world we are living in right now and the direction that we could take. The book and the novel beg us to be more thoughtful and considerate about our own lives and the lives of those around us. They show us what life could be like, including an atrocity like the Hunger Games: a world we wouldn't want to live in.

For those who are wary of the series, I encourage you to take a minute and look up what The Hunger Games is all about. Make the decision for yourself after you have made an attempt to get a fuller understanding what this hype is all about.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Life Seems too Large

There are some days when waking up in the morning is a pleasure, when trying to find clothes didn't turn into a year-long search with the only outcome a mismatched ensemble that reads neo-hipster because you haven't been able to wash your clothes in days. There were days where you were able to read Jane Austen without falling into a deep sleep because your body was exhausted. It's when you fall asleep to Jane Austen that you know something is desperately wrong with your life.

Today has been one of those kinds of day where not much seems to go right, but a whole lot of wrong seems to seep its way into everything. Incomplete homework, a dozen major projects piling up before your eyes, part-time jobs, scholarship positions, maintaining relationships, and yearning to be helpful to your loved ones when they are going through so much. I just left my last class to pick up a paper from another professor only to discover that my paper wasn't waiting there for me because of a silly mistake I made. A mistake so small (I said I would email my teacher about my grade, not pick my paper up from her) rendered me completely useless in my eyes. How could I have been so stupid?

Walking back to my room I scolded myself for being so inadequate at, well, life. The more I thought about my troubles, I allowed myself to sink further. It wasn't just this day that was terrible, it was this week, this month, this semester. My life is so crammed with do's, I forgot to take a minute to congratulate myself on all the done's I had accomplished. My life is crazy: too crazy, if you ask me.

And then again, maybe the problem isn't the life I have created for myself; maybe my problem is that I am ruthlessly hard on myself. Perhaps my days aren't filled with joy because I look at my reflection and say, "Do better! Try harder!" Maybe I need to start looking at myself and see all I have done instead of all I haven't accomplished; maybe I need to start realizing my own potential instead of looking at my past short-comings.

Sometimes, life seems to large; sometimes, crawling under your covers seems better than facing the day ahead of you. But we have nothing to fear. Nothing is impossible for us because we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139). The only thing stopping us from living out our lives to the fullest is ourselves. Don't be your own limitation, and don't be your harshest critic. There are already enough people in the world who have plenty to say about the steps we take in this world. It's time we let our own words hold us up, rather than push us down.