ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • Books & Novels»
  • Books for Teens & Young Adults

The Hunger Games, pt. 3: What is Normal?

Updated on May 8, 2012

Check Out My New Book

I recently published a collection of essays related to American History. See the link below for a hub that provides more details.

Are Humans an Example of Intelligent Life?

When trying to determine if a common human behavior or belief system makes any sense, I find it helpful to go with the alien test. So imagine that aliens from another solar system or galaxy have come to earth looking for intelligent life. I would assume, given the fact that they were able to get here in the first place, that they had achieved a level of intelligence and technological development far beyond our own. They would likely, therefore, have a high capacity for common sense and reason. And because they were outsiders, they would be completely free of any of our ingrained, cultural biases that form the lens through which we humans view reality. In other words, they would not be conditioned to accept any of our various conceptions of “normal.”

After looking around for a while, these aliens would notice some disturbing things. Many of these humans, for instance, willingly ingest, snort, or inhale toxic, addictive substances into their bodies. In some cultures, people see it as normal or natural to destroy a female adolescent’s capacity to enjoy sex through a process of genital mutilation. And in societies that see themselves as more liberated regarding “women’s issues,” women (and sometimes males of the species) willingly subject themselves to expensive, painful, and sometimes grotesque procedures to alter their bodies in order achieve some arbitrary definition of beauty. Throughout the world, humans find a variety of ways to subdivide themselves on the basis of skin tone, tribal affiliation, or religious faction, fearing, hating, or even killing members of other groups with whom they have had very little, meaningful interaction. And in spite of achieving a certain level of philosophic and scientific development, many humans accept their cultures ancient myths as if they are literal, historical truths. Clearly, they would see this as a planet far from achieving true intelligence, and they would quickly move on to the next solar system in search of higher orders of life.

We humans have a remarkable capacity to accept some strange ideas, behaviors, and social conventions as perfectly normal. In “The Hunger Games,” the reader is presented with a future, fictional world that demonstrates this capacity. The Hunger Games, an annual battle to the death between children selected from each of this country’s twelve districts, is sort of a mixture of reality television and the Super Bowl. Like reality television, these children are engaged in a compelling drama in which the television audience picks sides and becomes personally attached to the various characters involved. And like the Super Bowl, it is a national holiday with a rich and compelling history that plays a major part in measuring the annual cycle of people’s lives. Sure, it is a gruesome battle to the death. But if this gruesome battle is played out year after year on each family’s television set, it can over time become perfectly natural and normal. And given the rampant inequality between the people of the Capitol and those in (most of) the twelve districts, residents of the Capitol could easily write off the “tributes” in the arena as somewhat lesser orders of life anyway.

If you were to ask the fictional people of Panem why this annual ritual occurred, they would repeat the generic answer ingrained in them by the state: the games were instituted after the violent rebellions that occurred decades before, and without the games, the “troubles” would return. Few, however, would likely ask themselves how the ritualized murder of children could play a vital role in maintaining social order. And if they did truly explore this question, they would probably be uncomfortable with the answer. For by demonstrating each year that it was willing to take two children from each district and send them off for slaughter, the state annually reinforced the message that it would do whatever is necessary to maintain order. So as people in the real world typically do when it comes to political and religious beliefs, the average citizens of the Capitol accepted the official state explanation without giving it much thought. If you hear something enough times, after all, is starts to make sense. And as humans have consistently displayed throughout history, we have the capacity to do or believe just about anything.

Of course, there is always the possibility that those aliens would not write us off as completely hopeless. There have always been people, after all, speaking out against all forms of human injustice and foolishness. And “The Hunger Games,” even more than it is the story of a brutal, irrational society of the future, is a story of people rising up to create a better world. Unfortunately, it took a horrific war to bring about any change. And when the third book ends, it is not clear if this fictional society’s newfound peace can be sustained, and if humanity had finally learned the lesson that war and injustice basically suck. But the fact that there are people out there who see through the foolishness and can dream of a better world indicates that our species may have some capacity for empathy and reason. So if those aliens have already dropped by and decided to move on to other planets, they may be wise to come back in a few centuries to see if we have made any progress. We humans might not, after all, be a completely lost cause.





Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Freeway Flyer profile image
      Author

      Paul Swendson 6 years ago

      Yes, I might be giving those aliens too much credit.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I am pretty sure humans aren't a complete loss just yet! ;) Interesting hub, but for the most part, the dysfunctional nature of us... I think that is normal. And maybe that is what the aliens are looking for! Interesting views! :)

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Here's a point. We humans have certainly not improved our character or our behaviour as a result of our technological advances. Isn't it possible that your "aliens" might be similar?

      They might feel perfectly at home in our dysfunctional world.

      Just a thought.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)