If We Burn, You Burn With Us

In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Katniss delivers a powerful line:

If We Burn, You Burn With Us

We could take this at a 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 @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 cannot afford to lose the districts from an economic standpoint. The districts provide their electricity and their clothes and their food, usually without getting to keep much of that for themselves. The Capital isn’t just killing people from the districts who rebel. They are also going to make their own lives a lot harder.

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 their ridiculous clothes and their 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.”

Of course, as a Christian we can also 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. 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 as well. Enabling Islamophobia destroys the humanity of those in the West fearing Muslims as well. 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.

*Note: I am not encouraging “colour blindness” or any other kind of blindness which is usually a tool to gloss over systemic injustices, claiming we don’t see them and therefore don’t have to do anything about them. That is the exact opposite of what I am saying here.

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

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.