Friday, May 4, 2012

Hunger Games

I am a little behind on some popular reading, but decided to catch up the other day after continually seeing and hearing about Hunger Games. I found the book online and began reading around 2 p.m. on Wednesday. I read for twelve hours straight, stopping only for a bite to eat. I read about two hours the following day and was finished with the book. After all, I only had about 30 pages left to read.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into the book, just that it was very popular. I approached with an open mind. It captured my attention from the beginning, something fairly difficult to do for me. I will say that some of the ending is predictable, but the events in between were unknown. What would happen next? I had to know. The writing style was almost journal-like as it was in first person. It often annoyed me. It was definitely not Harry Potter. But it was a great read. And throughout the entire read I kept trying to analyze it as if I were back in my high school literature class days. What was being said about our society? Was this an allegory?

I began to think that maybe the Capitol was meant to represent the United States. The districts which were more well off, at least with plenty of food, might be considered Western Europe and possibly other industrialized nations such as Australia and Japan. And further districts were representative of places where, although some people may be surviving without much problem, there are many people starving. Many people were needlessly dying from malnutrition and a lack of money to buy food, medicine and shelter.

I previously interned with an organization, Heifer International, whose mission was to end world hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. I couldn’t help but think about that in this context either. They work to teach communities invaluable skills. Later the community may receive plants or animals to help them become self-sustainable. These gifts begin to change their lives as they are not allowed to eat the gift itself. They can, however, eat the produce from the gifts and sell the rest for extra income. Take a cow for example. They can drink the milk. Or a nanny, which can provide milk for drinking or cheese. Keeping this in mind, I continued reading and then I came across this on page 144.

Owning a nanny goat can change your life in District 12. The animals can live off almost anything, the Meadow’s a perfect feeding place, and they can give four quarts of milk a day. To drink, to make into cheese, to sell.

That brings me to my conclusion. Whether or not this book is meant to be allegorical or not, it has some truth to it. It is no game at all. People around the world fight for their lives every day. Maybe they aren’t set up by the government against each other, with only one person allowed to live, but they have to fight their environment. They have to fight empty stomachs. They have to fight disease. They have to fight for their lives.

But, you and I, we can do something about this. Unlike the sponsors in the book it does not cost us a fortune to send gifts to these people. In fact, through Heifer International we can buy an entire flock of baby chickens for $20. Or, if we don’t want to spend that much, we could pay for a share of a goat for $10. Every little bit counts. Even a Heifer is relatively inexpensive, $500, when compared with the benefits. And these donations aren’t helping just one person, they’re helping many. The first female offspring will be given to another person in need. The gift keeps giving. You can view Heifer’s entire gift catalog online. With Mother’s Day just around the corner this is a great opportunity to help a family in need in her honor.

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