Subject line from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
On Saturday, I went to go see The Hunger Games (like much of the country, I’m sure). I am a huge fan of the series, and I thought the movie was well done. Yesterday, I read an article about some fans disappointment that some of the casting was of African American actors. Now, there are a lot of things I could rage and say about that statement, and part of me really wants to.
It’s only because of my meditation training that I haven’t completely flown off the handle about it.
I want to talk about the importance of being open to others and of storytelling. There is something in me that hesitates to write this post, feeling the need to caveat it with I do not find what the fans are disappointed at all acceptable. Maybe it seems unnecessary to say it. Either way, I’m trying really hard to find some compassion for what was said – both for the sayers and the recipients. That it’s important to not breed the same sort of hate-language, which seems okay because it’s against people who are wrong. They are, still, part of this world. I saw Lodro Rinzler speak a few weeks ago (he wrote a great book called The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation), and one practice he described for cultivating compassion is to add “just like me” to the things we may say about someone else. As in, “These people have made a huge mistake … just like me.” And while the mistake may not be the same, I can’t say that I’m perfect.
I also think that the fact that there is an outcry that people are making racist comments about the casting allows us to at least begin having conversations about race, gender, power, and privilege. Collins’ book, in its own way, urges us to look at the ways we allow ourselves to be divided, allow ourselves to be used against each other, to further agendas that are clearly not based on compassion or understanding another person. The tagline for the movie poster is “The world will be watching.” And, in some ways, the movie (and these comments, found on Twitter) reminds us that we are so much closer to each other, via communication, than before, and that people are watching. What are we going to do with that? How will we behave? We will allow ourselves to perpetuate and foster division? Or do we use that to see how we are similar?
Being open to one another, and to the ways in which we are not perfect and act in ways that others find awful, it allows us to use the power of storytelling. How else are we able to connect with other human beings? How else could Suzanne Collins express some of these ideas – in a way that multiple generations and races and genders and orientations could hear it? Because, when a book and a movie get as big at The Hunger Games has (the book being one of the highest selling books on Amazon and the movie grossing $155 million on opening weekend), the story has touched people. I first read the book when a friend told me I had to. And I remember being sucked in from the start and not wanting to stop reading. I know I’m not alone in that reaction. How many times have I read on blogs, “I read it in X days. I’ve never read anything that fast!” A lot.
So, as storytellers, as legacy holders, as people responsible for telling tales and connecting with our audience, whomever they may be, what story sets you on fire? What story will you tell? What will you make?
How will you connect with others?