Featured image courtesy of http://hungergamesdwtc.net
Set in a dystopian future, the Hunger Games series have captivated millions through its portrayal of how courage, compassion, and selflessness can endure in the face of heartbreaking cruelty. With the new Hunger Games movie in theatres, I felt it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the series through this blog post (You saw what I did there). Here are seven ways that lessons from the Hunger Games apply to LDS youth and single adults.
1. You can beat the odds
“The odds are against me, but I have something in my favor—desire and faith.” – Cliff Cushman, a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team.
We all have our own trials in life and for many LDS single adults, one of the most common challenges is finding their eternal companion. It’s sometimes easy to be discouraged and feel that we have a better chance of winning the Hunger Games compared to finding a spouse. However, discouraged LDS singles can benefit from the example of Katniss.
One of the defining characteristics of Katniss is that she never gives up. Despite being faced with fierce opposition, her courage, tenacity, and determination give her the strength to defy the odds and win the Hunger Games. Likewise, despite our personal challenges that may cause the odds to be against us, we can also triumph if we persevere and trust in the Lord.
2. Just like Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, we need to let our convictions shine forth to inspire others
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. “ – Matthew 5:16
From the very beginning, Katniss distinguishes herself from the other tributes. Although her grand entrance as the “Girl on Fire” turns heads, what ultimately makes Katniss stand out is how her convictions influence the way she competes in the Hunger Games. In the midst of human brutality, Katniss shows compassion when she sings to her dying ally, Rue, before she buries her with flowers. By refusing to turn on Peeta at the end of the first Hunger Games, Katniss inspires thousands of people through her act of love and defiance.
Because Katniss allows her courage, faith, and personal convictions to shine through to the people around her, she becomes the Mockingjay – a symbol of hope to the oppressed people of Panem. As Latter-day Saints, we can follow Katniss’ example through living in a way that allows the light of Christ to shine forth and inspire those around us. If we have the courage to stand for truth and righteousness, like Katniss, we can light a flame for others to follow.
3. Love is unselfish and requires sacrifice
“True love is based on personal unselfishness, but our modern world does not seem to understand this.”-Elder Theodore M. Burton
Throughout the series, Katniss demonstrates an unselfish, Christ-like love for the people she cares about. Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games to protect her sister Prim, she shields Gale when he’s being whipped, and during her second Hunger Games, she decides to sacrifice herself to save Peeta. This unselfish love is also demonstrated by Peeta, who tries to persuade Katniss to save herself during their second Hunger Games. After Peeta’s confession, it is only then that Katniss starts to realize her feelings for him. This love demonstrated in the Hunger Games is a stark contrast to the love often demonstrated in our society.
Sadly, all too often, the type of so-called love we see is based on personal gratification and selfishness. But that’s not what true love really is – it’s about being unselfish and making personal sacrifices. As demonstrated by Katniss, if we develop this type of love, we can build a relationship strong enough to withstand any trial that threatens to tear us apart from the people we care for.
4. Katniss maintains her standards under pressure
“I do not believe there is a double standard of morality.” – President James E. Faust
Throughout the series, Katniss is under a great deal of pressure to compromise her personal standards to survive. In the second Hunger Games, the tyrannical leaders of the Capitol hope that Katniss will compete mercilessly, and by doing so, discredit herself in the eyes of her supporters. Despite their cunning plan, Katniss refuses to play by the rules of someone else’s game. Although Katniss competes in the Hunger Games, she retains her humanity. She declines teaming up with bloodthirsty Career tributes, never kills anyone in cold blood, and refuses to betray her allies, even when it might be expedient to do so.
Katniss’ example is relevant to LDS youth and single adults, who are encouraged to maintain high standards in an increasingly wicked world. Because of the pressures we face, we might feel tempted to disregard our standards for the sake of worldly success or personal gratification. But as Katniss demonstrates, we don’t have to compromise who we are and what we stand for in order to win.
5. Never underestimate the power of your influence
“One virtuous young woman, led by the spirit, can change the world.” – Sister Elaine Dalton, former General President of the Young Women’s organization.
When Katniss first volunteered for the Hunger Games, she had no way of knowing how her actions would shape the lives of thousands of people. Ironically, Katniss doesn’t see herself as a role model to anyone – she has a stoic personality and feels that she has a hard time fitting in and making friends. Yet despite her perceived shortcomings, Katniss impresses the Gamemakers, wins the support of sponsors, and inspires thousands of people across the country. The courage, compassion, and humanity that Katniss demonstrates ultimately start a revolution that leads to the downfall of the Capitol.
Like Katniss, we may not fully realize how our actions can influence the people around us for good. Although we probably won’t be responsible for starting an uprising, our personal influence should never be underestimated. That’s why it’s important to live each day as a courageous disciple of Christ. Just like Katniss, our actions can bless the lives of others in ways we may not anticipate.
6. Surround yourself with the right type of people
“Choose friends who share your values so you can strengthen and encourage each other in living high standards.” – From the Strength of Youth
In the second Hunger Games, Katniss impresses the other tributes with her archery skills, leading half of the tributes to request Katniss as an ally. Although Katniss has a wide selection to choose from, she chooses not to ally with the “cool kids” – the lethal Careers. Instead, Katniss decides to ally herself with people she deems trustworthy. This decision pays off, as throughout the second Hunger Games, her allies make personal sacrifices to protect Katniss and Peeta.
Often, it can be easy to find ourselves attracted to the wrong type of people simply because they seem cool, popular, or charismatic. However, it’s critical for us to choose friends who are loyal and have our best interests at heart. Katniss survived the Hunger Games because she put her trust in the right people. Likewise, we need to be selective in choosing friends who are trustworthy and will support us in making good decisions.
7. It’s critical to act, rather than to be acted upon
“As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed.” – Elder David A. Bednar
Elder Bednar once explained that choosing to act, rather than to be acted upon, means we use our agency to impact our circumstances. We see this clearly demonstrated in the Hunger Games, as despite her personal trials, Katniss refuses to allow herself to be victimized. After her father dies, Katniss takes up hunting to provide for her family. When selected for the second Hunger Games, she does everything she can to prepare herself for the arena. Despite the destruction of District 12, Katniss presses forward through inspiring the rebellion against the Capitol.
Like Katniss, we need to be equally courageous in using our agency to make good life decisions. We need to keep moving forward, work hard, and be willing to make personal sacrifices to reach our goals. Regardless of your life circumstances, be like Katniss and find a way to win.
Do you want the (marital) odds to be ever in your favor?
In closing, I’d like to encourage my readers to keep working towards the ultimate goal of every LDS single adult – marriage in the House of the Lord. A temple marriage will make your love last throughout the eternities, make you eligible to receive a fullness of blessings, and make it more likely that your marriage will endure the trials and tribulations of life.
For example, the Ensign reports, “Nontemple marriages are about five times more likely to end in divorce than temple marriages. About 5.4 percent of LDS males who married in the temple were later divorced, and about 6.5 percent of the females. By comparison, some 27.8 percent of nontemple LDS marriages ended in divorce for men, and about 32.7 percent for women.”
Although a temple marriage is no guarantee you’ll stay married, it certainly makes a big impact on your relationship. It seems that couples who marry in the temple are more committed because they recognize that their marriage can endure throughout eternity. Clearly, if you get married in the temple, it’s safe to say that the odds will be ever in your favor.
Despite whatever changes or personal sacrifices you may need to make for a temple marriage, don’t give up on this goal. It’s worth fighting for. So as you get out there and look for your eternal companion, may the odds be for time and eternally in your favor:
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A huge thank you to Mormon Memes for allowing me to repost their images for this blog post! (https://www.facebook.com/mormonxmemes)