A Huge Distraction
The season of politics is upon us. If one is not careful, a person can end up with a cruel, twisted sense of the entire system. Of course, I am often convinced that with each election season that a cynical side of me believes that is the point. I am not one for trying to sway the masses to my way of thinking or convincing anyone that they must agree with me on the issues. However, I am starting to believe with more and more of my soul that the issues are a distraction from the true point of it all.
Let me explain what brings me to these thoughts. My spouse wanted to get a copy of the new release: Hunger Games. I have not read the trilogy, but the rest of the family has. So, I read the quick synopsis on the back of the movie and took a dive. At first, it was something that I would relate to the gladiatorial games of my beloved study in Ancient Rome. Huge gatherings of competitors with one purpose: please the crowd. For those that have not read the books or seen the movie, I will not be dropping any spoilers. This is just a support to my point. Those with power will do all they can to secure the attention of the masses with something entertaining that keeps them from thoughts of rebellion.
This is actually, at its core, a common theme in many myths and legends. Cultures have provided examples of the authority keeping the common people happy and busy so they don’t recognize what is going on behind the screens. The ancient Greek city-states were often ruled by a democracy, but powerful citizens would rise to the stations of power and illegally seize control of the city. They were labeled a tyrant. Of course, a tyrant held power because it was given and because he would keep the common citizens too busy to realize what he was doing. Most of these tyrants would be responsible for great public projects.
For the Romans, the practice of distracting the masses with games and contests was actually something that evolved from their funeral processions. The gladiatorial games were inherited from their Etruscan roots, which held such events as part of funeral events. The Etruscan monarchy was overthrown and became the Roman Republic, but the games did not fade. The senate loved to present games as part of a celebration to distract the common citizen. By the time of Julius Caesar, this practice was an art form. Public games and bribes were passed out to the citizenry. Of course, the emperors found a way to step it up and use prisoners as part of the main events. Nothing gains support from the public faster than a few days off work and extra money for doing absolutely nothing.
So, one of the basic premises of the Hunger Games is this distraction. Others have commented on it with films like The Running Man. Once the public is hooked, it is like passing out candy. They will never stop coming back for more. Why do you think reality shows are popular? Survivor essentially allows a group of people to use all the selfish skills of the human being and promote it for general consumption. Just look what people will do for a simple amount of money and fame. It is a sad state.
This leads me back to the election season. Pretty colors and loud conventions that are made for television may be the best way to get the message out, but beware that you are not pulled into the distraction and miss the real meat of the discussion. Vote on an educated position and not some constructed reality show of pundits and politicians. Avoid the intolerance and ignorance. Embrace the liberality and cognizance.