From Rebellion to Revolution

Last night I had a dream about The Hunger Games. Not surprising really, since I just devoured the first two books of the Suzanne Collins trilogy. I found myself unable to put them down and have heard similar reports from others.

I can’t speak for anyone else who has been engrossed by this trilogy, but I know what has gripped me. I am absolutely energized by the possibilities that exist in what is often dismissed as mere teenaged rebellion. The Spirit that exists in youth to challenge norms, question authority and, at its best, participate in tearing down structures of control and oppression.

I won’t go and spoil any of the key plot points in the first two books. The Hunger Games though, is yet another plot that involves young people and how they become a spark to challenge the “Capitol” and the oppression that always exists as a part of a system of control and power.

I have come to understand my own story, since childhood, more and more to have a through line of challenging powers and authorities (not always with grace or direct intent). I feel my brain and Spirit swell with opportunity whenever presented with tale, fact or fiction, about youth standing against oppression. And how perfect to be reading such a story during the week in which we remember Martin Luther King Jr. and how he inspired many youth to do exactly that.

This is really what is all about. Inspiring young people to be part of challenging norms, refusing to participate in systems of oppression (from bullying to consumerism), to incite within you anger and a desire to be part of the solution. It is all about funnelling teenaged angst and rebellion into the action of a revolution.

A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.” Martin Luther King Jr.

In my opinion the angst of youth, which I have yet to lose, can take many forms. Every year I am frustrated as youth take to the street for the “Weed March” and I see all that glorious unrest and rebellion get funnelled in ways that are ultimately selfish and self-destructive (I know I will get some argument from the ‘Weed Front’ as I always do).

In my opinion, the fact that we spend our time fighting for the legalization of marijuana is actually evidence of a culture that has become saturated with leisure. We are being distracted by our desire to numb the pain of an imperfect world rather than using that energy to fight for something meaningful. There are countless numbers of people dying from poverty and preventable diseases, scores of slaves working so we can buy cheap products and maximize profits. Their blood is truly on the hands of the wealthy society we daily enjoy. Yet we are more interested in my right to smoke a pain-killer?

As long as our energy is distracted in such a way, revolution will not be possible.

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." – Nelson Mandela   

To see true change, a True Rebel must wage an internal battle to set aside selfish ambition and selfish desire. Only then can a revolution take place; when it becomes about everybody, and not just about me.  The quote by King and Mandela represent a significant shift from rebellion to revolution.

I continue to believe, wholeheartedly, that it is you, our youth, who can lead us to new ground. Who can look at the destruction that our lives of leisure continue to cause globally and say two things;

  1. I will not be a part of it.
  2. I will do everything in my power to change it.

That’s why I get so pumped up by something like The Hunger Games. It is not just a story, it is another attempt to inspire our youth. To say, "You have the power to stand up against this type of oppression." The Capitol benefits from the hard work of all the other districts. They live in luxury and affluence while the districts mostly live in poverty and under the threat of violence. THIS IS NOT FICTION! This is the way things are today, right now in the world, but we refuse to stand up, because we are citizens of the Capitol.

Suzanne Collins is not alone. My favourite book in the Harry Potter series is The Order of the Phoenix, for the simple fact that the students take matters into their own hands. The Ministry of Magic has turned their school into a constant reminder of abuse of power and authority, embodied in the character of Dolores Umbridge. No one wants to admit that things are not okay and they are inundated with propaganda to sell the illusion that everything is under control. But a group of students know differently and they begin to train themselves so that they will be ready when it is time to stand against tyranny and brutality.

I have this poster hanging on the wall of my basement, “The Rebellion Begins”, because it stirs within me hope of what is possible. Make no mistake; I see part of my job description as “Inspire Youth to Rebel”. Not with wands, not with a bow and arrow, not with a gun, or a bottle, or a joint, or with sex; to rebel with love, empathy and compassion. It is a non-violent rebellion in the vein of Martin Luther King and Ghandi. One where we are armed with the absolute conviction that all people, globally, ought to have the same access to food, water and a basic standard of living, even if that means that my own decline. Armed with empathy for each person who is treated differently or isn’t afforded the same opportunities because of the color of their skin, or their gender, or what they believe, or who they are attracted to.

We stand against all forms of oppression. We stand against slavery. We stand against racism. We stand against all forms of prejudice. We stand against bullying. We stand against wealth in the face of millions dying of poverty. We stand against excess when so many are struggling in the face of scarcity. We are willing to offend. We are willing to make people uncomfortable. We are willing to speak the truth.

My dream is youth armed with such conviction, taking to the streets to rail against and challenge our “Capitol”; throwing off the chains of consumerism and dependency on a system of oppression.

I want include a little speech by Bono; another attempt to inspire a response. I hope you are left with his words ringing in your ears. Committing to this revolution, one that, among other things, wants to see the end to extreme poverty, is not a burden, IT’S AN ADVENTURE!

With The Hunger Games film

With The Hunger Games film coming out, this great series is getting even more attention. Thought I'd post a link to another Hunger Games blog that I thought was great.

For those who won't read the whole thing here are a couple quotes;

"After I finished reading the series, we sat around the dinner table one night. I asked our oldest son what he thought Collins is really trying to say in her books.  What's the deeper messages?  His response?  "These are books about the rich using the poor for their own entertainment and greed."  Aaron's jaw dropped.  We were stunned when Anson began explaining how this is sort of like, "You know...fair trade chocolate, Mom.  How we want cheap chocolate even if that means children are being abused, enslaved, and dying."

Only a literary work of art can use themes of violence and oppression to cause the reader to despise violence and oppression.  Suzanne Collins does this beautifully in her books."

"I've heard the Hunger Game haters say these books are vile and send a horrible message to young people.  They are uncomfortable with the society Collins depicts.  "It won't be long and this world could be as evil and inhumane as the world in the Hunger Games," they argue.  To this I say, as long as innocent children are kidnapped and enslaved to make our chocolate and eight year olds are killing other eight year olds so that we can wear shiny rocks on our fingers, we are already living in the world of the Hunger Games.  Welcome to Panem."

... great thoughts

No need to look at the

No need to look at the legalization movement to see our society is obsessed with leisure. Just look at the $10,000,000,000 in alcohol sales in Canada in 2011. Or how much money Bono makes for singing a song about his ex girlfriend, or how much Tim Thomas makes for stopping piece of rubber. I wish I had the stats for how much bad food we consumed but that number probably wouldn't fit in a single post. It would be an entire page of zeros and commas.

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