But not quite yet, apparently. One of the things that the books make clear that the movies didn't is that the districts were expected to celebrate the Hunger Games. Here's Katniss's reaction to the speech introducing the Hunger Games:
Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch – this is the Capitol's way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion.
Whatever words they use, the real message is clear: "Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there's nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen. To make it humiliating as well as torturous, the Capitol requires us to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity, a sporting event pitting every district against the others. The last tribute alive receives a life of ease back home, and their district will be showered with prizes, largely consisting of food. All year, the Capitol will shower the winning district gifts of grain and oil and even delicacies like sugar while the rest of us battle starvation.
Later, Effie Trinkett tells the various people to give Katniss a round of applause as their newest tribute, as if this is some kind of honor for her.
To the everlasting credit of the people of District 12, not one person claps. Not even the ones holding betting slips, the ones who are usually beyond caring. Possibly because they know me from the Hob, or knew my father, or have encountered Prim, who no one can help loving. So instead of acknowledging applause, I stand there unmoving while they take part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence. Which says we do not agree. We do not condone. All of this is wrong.
Right now, there's a drive on FB and elsewhere to get people to vote. I shared the picture just like everyone else, because I do believe in voting. But there's something about this scene that gets across my discomfort with voting just because you're expected to vote for someoene.
The citizens of Twelve are asked to applause Katniss as tribute, because this is what you do, as part of the farce. If they had applauded, Katniss points out, this would have made them complacent. Instead, they offer "the boldest form of dissent they can manage": they refuse to be made part of the spectacle. And I've been thinking of this in light of the question that I've been facing again and again these days: to vote or not to vote?
At a national level, I don't like either Obama or Romney. I really don't like Romney, and some days I decide I will vote for Obama just as a counter-vote against Romney. I know a lot of people look at the national scene and decide to vote for third parties, like libetarians. There's a problem with this, though. By voting libertarian you're not just voting against the two dominant parties. You're voting for something else specific. For some people, this is something they actually believe in; for others, not so much.
I get that not everyone shares my politics. That isn't the point of this post. It's rather to point out that sometimes silence can be louder than words, and this scene at the Reaping makes that point palpably. There seems to be a world of difference between staying silent because you haven't bothered to think of something to say, and staying silent because anything you could have said would just commit you to something you couldn't in good conscience support.
What do you think? Not just about the election issue (that's really just one application of this dynamic among many!) but about the way standing silent can mean something? Do you buy that? How do you sort that out from apathy? Was this enough of a statement, from the citizens, to show they didn't agree with what they were being asked to go along with?