A proven theme of human society is this:
Bad situations exist until people decide to act outside of the accepted norm.
That decision can come out of respect and kindness.
This decision can come out of horror and shame.
This decision can come out of a moral sense of right and wrong.
This decision can come out of tiredness and fear.
This decision can come out of curiosity and bravery.
But it must come. We, each one of us, depend upon these pivotal decisions.
Question: In a world so dominated by themes of powerlessness, how will new generations understand the power they hold in their hands with each day of their life?
Answer: Through two things. History (our best recollection of actual events) and Fiction.
Historical Example: Temple Grandin
In the lovely, moving, powerful movie starring Claire Danes, we watch as Temple is denied access to the cattle yards where she wants to do research for her Master’s Thesis. Blocked at all levels, by the top boss and the regular cowhands, her opportunity for success is dimming when a yard manager decides to buck the attitudes of his fellows and sign off on her research. Today, 50% of cattle slaughtered in America suffer less because of Temple Grandin’s research and the changes she made to the industry.
That man’s one, small act made these changes possible.
Fictional Example: The Hunger Games & Catching Fire
Susanne Collins’ trilogy illustrates the small actions which, together, can bring about sweeping change to an unjust system. Each, if they had not happened, would be a deal-stopper for the revolution. Here, I list them…showing the importance of everyone from prisoner to poor to middle class to upper class to high-level leadership.
- The downtrodden of District 12 offer silence and a 3-fingered tribute to Katniss (without this, the coals of dissent would not have been stoked to a fervor capable of igniting revolution)
- Madge Undersee gives Katniss the Mockingjay Pin (which goes on to become a symbol for the Revolution – as Mockingjays represent the fallibility of The Capitol to the oppressed)
- Thresh decides to reward Katniss’ kindness to Rue with kindness (without his compassion, under a situation of extreme powerlessness and duress, the trilogy could not exist)
- The old man in District 11 lifts his hand in the 3-fingered tribute and whistles Rue’s Song (because of this, Katniss & Peeta are frightened into acting as The Capitol wants them to act, only further infuriating Districts that might have been mollified by Katniss & Peeta’s initial approach of sincerity and compassion)
- Cinna, a member of the elite, sacrifices himself to remind the Districts of Katniss Everdeen’s symbolism as The Mockingjay (thereby increasing the growing furor of the Districts)
- Haymitch Abernathy’s decision to get sober and do his best (here we see the power of NOT giving in to despair; proof that giving up is to choose loss, while staying involved and continuing to try is the only possible path to success…no matter how unlikely)
- Katniss’ fellow tributes who join the effort to keep Katniss alive (all of them likely had the opportunity to expose the plan, in an attempt to save themselves, but they did not…accepting, instead, almost certain death)
- Plutarch Heavensbee’s betrayal of The Capitol is no more powerful or important than any of the many decisions that came before him. He is truly, one of many.