If we burn, you burn with us

Nov 28, 2014 by

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In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, the main character, Katniss, in the midst of the battle, delivers a powerful line to the president:

If-We-Burn-You-Burn-With-Us

We could take this at the simple level of a threat, like, “We aren’t going down without a fight.” In the context of the greater themes of the series, though, I don’t think we should read it that simply.

Here’s how Twitter user, @deray, a protester in Ferguson these last few months, put it:

“If we burn, you burn with us” is Katniss’ statement about the shared human experience. To murder your own people is to kill humanity.

That’s how I would take it. Even practically within the movie, the point was made that the Capitol, the governing city of the book’s society, cannot afford to lose its districts, who are rebelling from the Capitol’s oppressive control, from an economic standpoint. The districts provide the Capitol’s electricity and their clothes and their food, usually without getting to keep much of that for themselves. The Capitol isn’t just killing people from the districts who rebel. They are also going to make their own lives a lot harder, too.

To reference another movie, In Time has the great line, “for some to live forever, many must die.” We could all live a great life if we all worked together, but there are always some who want to be at the top. The Capitol isn’t content with a happy life similar to that of everyone else. They want ridiculously extravagant clothes and gourmet foods that force them to throw up so they can keep eating. To do that, they need to keep others under their boot. To cite another famous line, “the world has more than enough for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed.”

As Christians, we can affirm this from a deeper perspective. We are all human. We are all bearing the image of God. We are all so deeply loved by God that he would die a horrible death to demonstrate that love to us. In God’s eyes, there is no distinction between male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free, Christian and Muslim, white and black, Capitol and district.

By killing the other, we are killing ourselves because at our core we are the same.

Enabling male violence against women destroys the humanity of men as well. Enabling slavery destroys the humanity of the owners. Enabling Islamophobia destroys the humanity of those in the who fear Muslims. The Capitol destroying the districts destroys their own humanity as well.

As soon as one person or one group of people has a place of domination over another, the oppressors have lost their humanity at least as much if not more than the oppressed have.

It is a sobering thought from the movie then for those of us who live more like the Capitol than the districts: if the world burns, we burn with them.

Ryan Robinson lives in Waterloo, Ont., and attends The Meeting House, a Brethren in Christ multisite church. He blogs at anabaptistredux.com where this post originally appeared.


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