Thursday, April 5, 2018

Using The Hunger Games to Measure Ourselves

Not long ago, I read The Hunger Games novels because I was curious what all the fuss was about. I won't spoil the books, but I will offer one observation. Because of the kind of life she had lived and because of the circumstances in which the main character, Katniss, finds herself, she has a hard time trusting people. She lives in a cynical world and sees everything through a veil of skepticism and mistrust. Because of this, Katniss doesn't recognize true kindness when she sees it, at least in the beginning. She is always expecting an ulterior motive.

Katniss's blindness reminded me of a passage where Paul was writing to Titus about human nature. Paul wrote, "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted" (Titus 1:15, HCSB). Paul's point here is that what we see in the world actually says more about us than it does about the world. If a person looks at the world and only sees calculation and manipulation, that observation says more about the experiences and mindset of the individual than it says about the reality of the world.

I know men who are so full of themselves that they see obvious acts of discouragement from women as invitations. I have also known women who feel so badly about themselves that it is impossible for them to look in the mirror and see beauty even if the rest of the world is blown away by them. What we see in the world around us is often much more instrumental in giving us a glimpse of ourselves than it is in helping us analyze the world. What is the old saying? "if everybody has a problem with you, everybody is probably not the problem"?

When we look at the people around us and everyone looks cynical, we are probably expecting cynicism because we are cynical ourselves. If we look around us and we feel like everyone is pretending, we are probably doing some pretending ourselves. On the other hand, if we are always seeing people being kind and considerate, that also says something about us.

Every now and then, it is good to step back and characterize the world so that we know where our own mind has been. If the whole world has a problem with us, there is a chance that the world is not the problem.

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