Mockingjay, Morality, and Might makes Right


I saw the new Hunger Games movie last night – Mockingjay Part 1. As usual with the Hunger Games films I left the theatre quite perturbed. The movie deals with an oppressive government that destroys the freedoms of her people; and it features the nobility of a young lady, Katniss, who reluctantly, though inevitably, stands up for justice.

The movie raises an important question: who gets to decide right from wrong?

This is no abstract question – our society wrestles with questions of right and wrong all the time.

For example, the news is on right now even as I write this and CBC is  covering a story in which Michelle, the Duggars mom, has spoken against so-called same-sex marriage. How does a society what is right and wrong?

Isaiah spoke against those who “call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isa 5:20 ESV). In short, he rebuked those who inverted the moral order.

And that is where Mockingjay asks us some penetrating questions about morality.

But the conclusion is actually incredibly simple. John Piper once said that when there is no moral standard, no moral arbitrator, then, necessarily, “might makes right.” Sadly, that is the legacy of Derrida, Foucault, and the other parading pundits of postmodernity with their silly conclusion that “what’s true for you is not always true for me.” Yeah sure. What they are actually saying is what they have been saying for years: “might makes right.”

Think about it. If you give up law that is built on human dignity, ten commandment-type stuff (lex talionis), then morality is determined by the loudest voices, the biggest biceps, and the largest arsenal.

And that is why Hunger Games is so deeply disturbing – it’s meant to be. Yet that is also why It makes such a striking point – because we all know, fundamentally, the difference between right and wrong. It’s in our souls. It’s the strongest argument for the existence of God. And that is why, when the state passes, by majority vote, that black is white and bitter is sweet, there will always be a few Katniss-types who know that you just can’t change what’s really there, no matter how much positive, affirming language you couch it in.

In other words, give me divine-command ethics or no ethics at all. Cuz that’s all you will get otherwise. No real ethics. No real morality – just the morality of muscles, where the biggest ones always win.


2 thoughts on “Mockingjay, Morality, and Might makes Right

  1. Derrida writes, among many topics, of the problem of defining and categorizing the “other”. Foucault cautions against false certainty, the allure of blind ideology, the danger of totalitarianism and constructed images of authority…. AKA the type of stuff the Capital is built upon. I’d suggest reading Foucault’s short essay “What is an author?” or any of his research on the panopticon. Both have much to add to the conversation on how humans ought to live together. Neither function as a metonymy for post-modernism.

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