Two great movies have recently been released, both with a plot about teen-aged youth. I was really disappointed to see some people playing up one movie by downgrading the other. Personally I saw wonderful hope in both stories.
October Baby is the story of a 19 tear old young lady, Hannah, who is surprised to learn she is adopted. But even that news isn’t the most shocking. She sets out on a road trip with a van full of college students in hopes to find her birth mother and find answers to questions that have been swirling around in her head for years. But not all questions need an answer and Hannah learns that real love comes with sacrifice.
The Hunger Games is a dystopian story set in a post North America now called Panem. It is comprised of 12 districts surrounding The Capitol, the governing entity of Panem. Each district is poorer than the preceding as it is distanced from The Capitol. Based on the location of each district the development of a product is the soul focus as this product is produced for The Capitol in exchange for food. Due to an uprising in the past, District 13 was obliterated to make an example of what happens when the people of Panem rebel against the leadership. Also, as an annual reminder, The Hunger Games are held. One male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 is selected by lottery from each district to compete, compete to the death. The one living tribute is crowned the victor and his or her family is then set for life, never to go hungry again.
Two major themes revealed themselves in these movies that should give us hope. Both themes are displayed by the youth of the movies. First, the respect and recognition of the dignity of life, one’s own life as well as other’s lives. In October Baby, Hannah questions why her own mother didn’t want her. She wonders what was so bad about her life that her mother didn’t want to keep her. Later in the movie when a major secret was revealed regarding another life that was originally part of her own (attempting to refrain from spoilers), she questions the worth of her own life above the worth of another. In the Hunger Games, the heroine, Katniss, is never comfortable about taking the life of her opponents. In fact, she only kills out of self-defense and works to save the lives of others in the competition. Without spoiling the ending, it is a decision that all life is equal and no one is more deserving than another to remain alive. Both movies display a passionate, but different reverence for life.
Secondly, both films reveal something about the youth of our day. Father Robert Barron has done a fabulous review of The Hunger Games and says the movie is prophetic. I couldn’t agree more. But I would like to add to it that it is our youth and young adults that will turn the tide. On October 22, 1978, Blessed John Paul II said the words “Be not afraid!” in St. Peter’s Square. He explains these words in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope saying, “In a certain sense it was an exhortation addressed to all people, an exhortation to conquer fear in the present world situation, as much in the East as in the West, as much in the North as in the South. Have no fear of that which you yourselves have created, have no fear of all that man has produced, and that every day is becoming more dangerous for him! Finally, have no fear of yourselves!” This very command, the youth of the JP II era have taken on as their own mindset. In an article by Colleen Carroll Cambell about the JP II Generation, Ms. Cambell wrote this, “…Blessed John Paul planted seeds of faith, hope and love that have borne lasting fruit in this generation, fruit that will continue to ripen in the decades to come. As one young woman told a reporter at his funeral, “The Pope loved us enough to tell us the truth.” That truth is one that JP II Catholics now want to proclaim to the world.” (Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-john-paul-ii-generation-grows-up/#ixzz1rZNvAOxB). It is this truth that the youth and young adults of today are fighting to find. In the letter addressed to the youth of the world, promulgated on March 31, 1985, Blessed John Paul II wrote, “On you depends the future…, So do not be passive; take up your responsibilities-in all the fields open to you in our world!” I believe the youth of today are taking on this challenge, understanding the future belongs to them and is theirs to shape. The youth and young adults of today question the reality of the world in which they live, (A line taken from The Truman Show). They are not as willing to just accept the mistakes of the past, brushing them under the rug. Sure there are those who question and then define their own principles, but there are more and more of the JP II Generation finding truth in Christ and choosing to live within His principles. It is these in which we have hope. It is in the young who choose to question the laws of abortion, infanticide and euthenasia, similiarly to the questions of Hannah in October Baby. It is those who question the control of a government that doesn’t recognize the dignity of the human being, made in the image of God, similarly to Katniss in The Hunger Games. Like Fr. Barron opined in his review, America is heading the direction of The Hunger Games unless we can hold onto our Christan roots. Human sacrifice takes place in a non-Christian world. I saw hope for not only the maintenance of a Chrisian world, but the revived Christian world as I saw the youth and young adults of today’s strength in the very truths written on their hearts exemplified in these two movies. Call me crazy, but I see great, truth-filled leaders in our future, defending the dignity of life by questioning the lack thereof.
Copyright 2012 Diane Schwind