In a letter to the editor published Nov. 19, the writer cautioned parents against reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, arguing that it promotes violence. Evil exists and it is good that the writer is against it. However, books like The Hunger Games are not the source of evil, and requesting their censorship will not solve the problem. Before there can be a claim that there is no justification for reading these books, facts must first be provided to allow us to discern truth and make the right decision.
The writer focused on the violence in The Hunger Games, stating that in it “you have to kill your own friends so you can be the last person standing.” This is no new concept; our country fights wars. And I can think of no book containing more violence than the Bible itself. Crucifixions… bloody battles… even shepherd boys threw a few stones. We are less likely to criticize Biblical violence because the bloodshed occurred to triumph over evil. Likewise, the goal of the characters in The Hunger Games is not to encourage killing, but to end it.
Collins wrote her novel as a “what if?” scenario: What if humans became so apathetic they struck fear into people by forcing teenagers to fight to the death? And what if a girl chose to combat this oppression rather than submit to it? In fact, while the novel is fiction and while it will never equal the Bible in provision of guidance, its characters display many Christian values. They possess hope that they will defeat the enemy, despite their hardship. (Romans 12:12) They muster courage to stand up for their beliefs. (Joshua 1:9) It is protagonist Katniss Everdeen’s selfless love for her family that drives the story. (1 Peter 4:8) People do not defend books just because they are “cool” or popular or action-packed; they defend them because they have likable characters who want good to overcome evil.
These books are not for everyone. Many novels contain violence and bad language. Parents, this is where you step in. Read books with your children. Point out characters’ positive traits, and discuss any bad decisions they make. This is how you lessen violence in society - not by banning literature.
Evil is rampant, so it must be confronted; we must monitor children, read with children, pray with children. One theme in The Hunger Games is to “remember who the enemy is.” Remember that our enemy is in the hatred and bloodshed that is occurring as we speak, not in the pages of children’s novels.