Bobby Winters Guest Columnist
The Ada News
I went to The Hunger Games with my daughters. Twice. I am also reading the book at their behest. I must say that I enjoyed the movie and am enjoying the book very much. The style of storytelling in the movie and the book is so intimate it really draws the viewer/reader in. It very much engages the heart.
I took my head along with me to the movie and found something there as well. The story is set in Panem, which is the successor to the United States in the distant future following disaster and war. Panem is divided into districts. Communication among the districts is cut off and they are set into competition with each other in the Hunger Games.
Looking at that situation--a country divided with divisions set at each other’s throats — was oddly familiar. It reminded me of a country I know and love.
In unity there is strength. Like Cesar Chavez said, “The people united will never be defeated.” In classical warfare, dividing your forces was almost always a mistake.
Indeed, even in horror movies, when the group of healthy, sexually attractive teenagers decide to split up, you know the killer is going to have a field day.
Politics is just war moved off the battlefield and into the board room, living room, and bedroom. Divide and Conquer is the motto and the mode of operation. If the people are divided into small, ineffective groups who share only a mutual distrust, they can be set against one another. This happens when there is no shared vision, no leadership among the divided factions.
A man can unite within himself many things. He can be a warrior, a poet, a lover, and a fighter. The same is true of Woman as well. Bringing those seemingly competing parts of ourselves into unity makes us better as people.
If I don’t meaningfully engage in that struggle, there is no growth. If the lover is dominant and overwhelms the fighter, the combination that is the larger of the two will not emerge. In the end, there will only be a lover that is hampered by dragging around the corpse of the fighter; or the reverse if the fighter prevails.
If the people are divided into factions, and each faction writes off the others as idiotic or hard-hearted, there cannot be a mutual understanding reached the incorporates the united strength of the factions.
Dividing people is easy. I know of a couple of ways of doing it. One would be to go to a group that shares a history and has been — and is being — discriminated against and tell them they are victims. They have been sinned against; they are owed something; and that you are the one that will get it for them.
The tendency to victimhood is a part of human nature, I am convinced. I’ve heard the old folks say that you can hold a baby, rub its head, and say “poor baby” in sympathetic tones and it will eventually cry. As I don’t draw much entertainment from crying babies, I’ve not tried this myself.
Another way of forming a division is to do the exact opposite. You pick out a particular group and tell them they are better than everyone else. You tell them that the rest of the world is full of lazy, lollygaggers that are holding them back.
I think that you can see that once these treatments have been applied thoroughly the people are pretty well divided up. Everybody is blaming the other guy for what is wrong and nobody is looking to the interest of the whole.
The treatments have been applied to such an extent in our beloved country that we have been separated into atoms. There is no king in Israel and every man does that which is right in his own eyes.
As divided as we are, I don’t know of a global solution. The heuristic I’ve used myself is — regardless of how stupid the enemy looks — respect it. Snakes aren’t smart, but they can kill you. In respecting the enemy, one can sometimes see his point of view and — God forbid —learn from him. This is dangerous, though, because it has caused me to change my mind on some important issues.
Just remember one thing. These people who are trying to cut you off from the herd are not your friends.
Bobby Neal Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University.
He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com
and okieinexile.blogspot.com. )