Getting Out of Life in The Hunger Games
by Max Antonucci | Syracuse University
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve identified as a functionalist above anything else.
I believe that, regardless of how intelligent and sophisticated people become, in the end we’re mainly driven by our basic instincts of survival. The big priorities are food, water, sex and security. They just take the subtle disguises of wanting to get a secure job, feeling desperate for a relationship and not wanting to work until the pizza arrives. We’re still animals — we’re just a lot smarter.
It’s certainly a skeptical view, since it also means that people are always looking after themselves in some way. But that’s just how I see things.
This perspective has even affected how I look at politics. And it, not the usual democratic ideologies, has enforced a belief of minimum security for all citizens.
Before there was any state in place, life was a struggle to get enough resources to stay alive for all people at all times. It was like a less-dramatic and scarier version of The Hunger Games — an open playground for people to run, attack and kill like the animals they are with no rules.
The biggest part was no security. If you couldn’t provide for or protect yourself by whatever means, the odds were not in your favor.
Thomas Hobbes theorized that the entire point of having a state was to prevent our lives from being that bloody entertainment for the people of Panem. A minimum security standard would be provided to those who normally would’ve been picked off on day one.
So if people on the bottom of the food chain aren’t safe, there’s reason to have the White House in Washington. Reasons like providing food stamps for those who can’t afford food without aid, Planned Parenthood for basic family health services and a tax system that would only take from those who could still live well with less.
I’m not saying it should go to everyone who’s not living a comfy lifestyle. It should go to people whose lives would be in danger without it.
This especially holds true for the values of capitalism and the banks on Wall Street. More regulation must be put into place. Without it, the people in charge of Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup take advantage of those below them – loot more wealth, all in the name of feeling more secure in their riches. That’s how people are programmed, to fight for their survival regardless of who else gets hurt. That’s what those banks, along with every other major corporation, are doing.
Doesn’t sound much different from the law of the jungle, does it? Look out for number one.
I’m not saying conservatives are wrong. I completely understand where their views of individual responsibility come from. Like I said, I’m a functionalist, so I believe people still need to work hard if they want to make it somewhere higher. People aren’t entitled to absolutely everything they want from the government and do need to have a strong work ethic. That’s why I’m doing as much writing as I can as a journalist – writing for NextGen Journal, my college newspaper and maintaining a blog while pulling good grades. I can’t just laze around in the sun; nothing good will happen on its own.
But the current tribes of conservatives in Congress are so hyper-partisan in their ideology that they’re endangering the entire reason for government. Attacking areas like women having free access to contraception medication doesn’t make sense to me, since it’s not something that should be “worked for” — it’s a basic need, and government is in place to fill these basic needs. If it’s essential to living in some way, it shouldn’t be reliant on a work ethic.
Sad to say, but not all people are born equal. We all come into this world with different benefits. Government is here to make sure that class inequality doesn’t become so great that social classes turn into a food chain.
Do people still have a responsibility to work hard? Of course they do. But the reason people live in the United States and not the wilderness is so they can work hard to succeed, not to stay alive. It’s a key difference that many people, who are more better off than they realize, forget every day.Max Antonucci is a NGJ Staff Writer and a Syracuse University freshman, majoring in Newspaper and Online Journalism, and minoring in Information and Technology.