Katniss Was Not an Activist


Nov 22 2016

Gold Tape

Katniss Was Not an Activist

Let other pens dwell on politics.

I’ve avoided being political because ‘it’s not my place’ and because I’m so unclear about what policies I support. When I take political spectrum tests I’m smack dab in the centre because I want benefits for everyone and taxes for no one. The world doesn’t really work like my disjointed utopia.

This election, however, transcended politics.

One thing I’ve learned, from this election (and from Survivor), is that emotions are what primarily matter to people, whether we admit it or not. Emotions come before logic, before experience (For example, TIME magazine argued that “Hillary Clinton built a machine. The nation wanted a movement.”). 

November 8th was a wake up call. I remember thinking there was no way Donald Trump could be a Republican nominee let alone THE candidate let alone THE President-Elect. 

As commentators have put it, his voters took Mr Trump seriously but not literally, even as his critics took him literally but not seriously.” – The Economist

Even now I find myself thinking there is no way he will follow through on his political promises. There is no way he can continue to lead through fear. Based on my poor track record regarding our President-Elect, I’ve decided it’s time to stop assuming these things and start doing something about them.

I’m not ‘an activist’. But neither was Katniss Everdeen.

Our Hunger Games heroine was not out to revolutionise Panem or take down the Capital. She volunteered as tribute because she wanted to save her sister. She threatened to eat the poison berries because she refused to kill Peeta. Through these actions she made bold political statements, but throughout the trilogy Katniss is motivated not by The People, but by her people.

Aren’t we all?

Politics and economics are systems designed to support our lives. Just systems. Ultimately we all want the same things: safety, freedom, happiness, liberty and justice for all…

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance. Without acceptance there can be no recovery.” – Albus Dumbledore

When something big happens, I want to understand. One good thing that comes with hightened emotions is an urgency, an energy, to be more aware and to react. Let’s do this constructively.

Many voices on the internet presume that the results of the election is a tragedy for everyone. Counting down to the final announcement, newscasters said in disbelief, ‘This is not what America wanted’ when, looking at the states colouring in red, it kind of looks like exactly what America wanted. Many many people feel hurt, while many many others think that this is okay. 

Politics and policy aside, right now many people feel scared, and personally attacked. It’s not about winning and losing.

I felt this way when Britain voted to leave the European Union. I woke up flooded with every hurtful comment, slur, and assumption directed towards me as an American and as a non-Brit. Everything that made me feel unwelcome, ignorant, and unimportant, even though it’s not logically about me at all. I’m not Europe nor European.

I trust that America was not voting for misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, or racism. America was voting to make America great, but the problem with this nonspecific language is that it sweeps all the baggage and complications under the rug.  Albus Dumbledore once plotted with Grindelwald to fight ‘for the greater good’. His initial desire to protect wizard-kind meant fatal harm to other humans without magical power. 

As many across the internet have said, it’s not enough to tweet hashtags in support of causes we believe in. Ranting on Facebook won’t change minds. Let’s feel the way we feel, let others feel the way they feel, and then let’s talk about it together.

So let’s talk about this.

On Election Day I shared a photo of Lady Gaga all dressed up in her voting couture, and in the back of my mind questioned whether I should have even made this much of ‘a political statement’. I realise now that telling people to vote isn’t the point. I realise now that not saying anything is not being neutral, that it instead is silent acceptance of the way things are. Mr Trump was elected, whether because of his hurtful polarising opinions or despite them. 

What I think is important is to be able to talk about these things. That’s all. Just have conversations about your perspective and my perspective and the new ideas we can construct together. I want to hear about how you feel. 

I feel compelled to do something, just as I did after the Boston bombings. Not because the two events are comparable in fact, but in how they made me feel. What I did then was write about it, and so here I am, writing about this. In my confusion and uncertainty following the election, I turned to my favourite writers. Leo Babauta wrote about Compassion in the Midst of Madness. Sarah von Bargen wrote about 9 Real Actionable Things We Can Do About Trump

I am not writing to rally behind a political party. When [Dumbledore and] I say that we are only as strong as we are united, weak as we are divided, I am on Team America, Team Planet, and Team Human Race.

We have to be able to have conversations before we can change minds.

If we believe that things Mr Trump says are wrong, we can’t just shout and hope people will hear and change their minds. We have to also talk with each other. My opinions are only such because of other people.

Here at Heroine Training I celebrate the value of fiction not as a means of escaping our world, but of exploring it. Through Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and many others, I have expanded my view of politics and good and evil. I see the world through the lens of Hogwarts, and while people will always dismiss that view as childish, I know firmly that it is not. 

I created Heroine Training as a safe space for fiction to be cherished. By being your own heroine I want you to feel that this is also a space for you to be truthful and open about your opinions and experiences, the story that you have personally lived. Please feel welcome to share in the comments, in our Facebook community, or to reach out to me personally to continue the conversation.


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