Toward a more humane society

It would be hard to imagine anything less humane than a government forcing children to fight each other to the death until one survivor is declared the “winner.” That’s the theme of Suzanne Collins’s popular fiction trilogy, of which a film of the first book, The Hunger Games, has become a huge box office draw. In the story, this annual “game” in a post-apocalyptic America is a televised reality show, watched with delight by an outrageously pampered and desensitized central elite, and with gripping fear by the rest of the country.

It’s understandable that many adults would steer away from such an abhorrent theme. Why, then, are record numbers of people—both kids and adults—so drawn to The Hunger Games? There is something for Christian Scientists to ponder in the fact that the story’s
center of attention is on two teen participants who are engaged in a selfless and mighty struggle to cling to their inherent humanity, native goodness, and concern for others in the midst of the horrible circumstances in which they have been placed. While the story is fiction, one can draw from it both a warning and a promise concerning our present-day world.

Here’s the warning: Many elements in our society need to be carefully watched. Among other things, we live fast-paced lives and absorb ourselves in all kinds of technological devices; we alternate between watching people perform on reality TV and watching news coverage of young men and women fighting in actual wars; and we read and hear constantly of all kinds of brutality in our communities and in various parts of the world. If we don’t tend internally to our own inherent humanity, such an overload of external distractions can cause us to become insensitive and apathetic toward the feelings and needs of others.

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May 28, 2012

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