So, “The Hunger Games” is (are?) upon us, this time in film form!  I read the books over the fall and was taken with the characters, the story, and the way the story was told.  I could probably spend 20 blog posts considering various psychological elements of the book (and plan to dig in with a couple of characters over the next week) but what keeps coming to my mind today is the eerie similarity between the current excitement over the film coming out and the excitement in the book amongst the residents of the Capitol over the annual Hunger Games.  When we sit back and consider, the vast majority of us who read these books have more in common with the vapid and occasionally cruel residents who fill the capital than with the individuals fighting for survival every day in the districts.  This is interesting, because we all read the books and want to be identified with Katniss and her friends (did you see any halloween costumes of Peacekeepers, Game Makers, or President Snow?).  We want to be aligned with the righteously angry, those who rebel against injustice, and those who protect the weak among us.  This is why I love literature; it provokes us to examine our lives and assumptions and can drive us to change.  So, before you pre-purchase tickets to the Friday showing, let’s take a moment to ask some questions:

1)  Consider where the majority of your time, talent, and energy goes.  What does your use of time tell you about what you value?  Is it time for an adjustment?

2)  How does the relative comfort and plenty of the world we live in shape how you view your problems and the problems of others?

3)  We aspire to be people who are heroes to those who are hurting–what are simple ways you can be a “hero” to someone around you?  Are their opportunities to make a difference around you that you may be missing?

The point of this is NOT that being comfortable and content is bad–it would be wonderful if all were comfortable and content.  Instead, the point is to urge consideration of the world outside of ourselves.  There are various times where Katniss remarks on the self-absorption of the people she meets in the Capitol with their abiding focus on clothes, gossip, and the next Hunger Games.  Their downfall is not what they enjoy or the life they happen to have been dealt, but their lack of concern for others and understanding that others are struggling around them.  My readers of Christian faith will recognize that caring for those in need is a call and command in various Bible passages that encourage the church to look after the widows and orphans in their midst (Deut. 10:17-19, James 1:27).

Make sure that you aren’t missing places you can make a difference, even in a small way.  Talk to the quiet person at church or in the office, put some granola bars in your car to give the man on the street corner, use your couponing skills to enable you to give food to a local shelter.  Most of the time being a “hero” simply starts with opening our eyes to the reality of the world around us and having the courage to engage.

Take-out Version: Stay engaged with the world around you–how can you be a hero to someone in need?