Fire is catching…


In the wake of Donald Sutherland’s death, recently rereading “Mockingjay” for the first time in years, and the announcement of a new Suzanne Collins novelization, “The Hunger Games” universe and all its wonder have been floating around my head. Specifically, even the seemingly unimportant quotes that contribute vastly to the concept of Panem’s dystopian world.

Although this quote is simplistic, it remains one of my favorites from “The Hunger Games” series. This think piece hones in on a quote I have thought about far too often in my adult life and how it goes beyond the context as it is written:

“Stupid people are dangerous.”

It plays into the concept of people of power and their egregious and detrimental decision-making — their inadequacies projected into their “power plays”, completely disregarding the people they serve and how those chaotic idiocracies affect people, as well. The people most impacted by weak leadership are minorities or the disenfranchised, of any facet.

“Stupidity is willful ignorance, and ignorance leads to misinformation,” says Karen Rought. Ignoring, demeaning, and disregarding any minority population is a form of oppression. Outwardly supporting, or merely standing by while these atrocities occur, is complicity — a form of oppression, in and of itself.

I remember once seeing a graphic that said, “if you choose to be an ally or an advocate, without feeling the burn when standing close to the flame, then you are not doing enough in your efforts. What are you true intentions?”

This brings it back full circle to another iconic quote shouted by Katniss after witnessing the Capitol bombing of injured, hospitalized citizens:

“Fire is catching[…] And if we burn, you burn with us!”

Here, we witness Katniss rise from the (literal and metaphorical) ashes, officially becoming the Mockingjay; however, it also signifies something greater. “It rallies inspirational revolt by the weaker and minorities as their metaphoric expression of the same method by which the oppressors choose to destroy the oppressed; by the affliction of incendiary scorching and the callous prolonged annihilation by incineration, the oppressed shall set ablaze and burn down everything as well such that the oppressors are brought down along with the oppressed and likewise be torched by their oppressors’ own scourge,” says The Secret Aspirant.

Perhaps, this is why we love stories like “The Hunger Games.” There is nothing more moving or inspirational than seeing the underdog win. (Snow, himself, admits this very concept). While beaten and bruised and burned, a callous forms an outer shell of brevity, encouraging and motivating the oppressed minority to fight back. It is Katniss who recognizes the fragile system held in place by Snow, one held together by the mere concept of dividing-and-conquering and of fear. Take those two things away, and it all comes toppling down.

Those in power who find their “power” through hurting people, fear-mongering, producing propaganda (or the threat of it), and pitting their people against one another displays the system’s inadequacies, and in actuality, shows how truly powerless, weak, and, ultimately, ineffective these “leaders” reign, especially in the face of People Who See Right Through Them.

I don’t believe Snow was stupid, no, but he was flawed, callous, and corrupt as ruler. And that’s why, even if it takes nearly 75 years and a few Quarter Quells later, those “leaders” always fail.

[Insert a three-finger salute here].

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