Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Panda Bear on the Hunger Games, Wars and Emotional Decision Making

The Panda Bear has not read nor seen the movie the Hunger Games.   However, the Panda Bear believes the reason the story is so popular now among both teens and adults is because it touches a nerve for people today.    One does not read about a fictional dystopia to seen teenagers kill each other on television; it can be seen on television all the time both in reports of wars and shootings in the school.

The Panda Bear knows many people who think people have gotten more callous towards each other in recent years.   If this is true, the Panda Bear believes it is the result of people being exposed to the "virtual" and false brutality on television and on video games.    These technological images of brutality are real enough for people on some level to believe that they have experienced it so when these people actually encounter it their lives the violence does not seem unusual.

Of course where modern reality gets very close to the Hunger Games is in modern war.    In wars, adults are sending teens and young  adults into battles for conflicts which these young people did not start.   Also while there are affluent families with a proud military tradition, it is mostly people from the lower economic parts of society that enroll in the military.   While there is no draft in the US, many young people may feel "forced" financially to enroll in the military.

The Panda Bear recently read this very moving piece by David Freed in the Los Angles Times about how sad he felt about his son going to Afghanistan to serve in the Army.   While Mr. Freed's son was from the middle-class, David Freed stated that he felt most people were in the military were there because they needed a job and were not from affluent families.  

Another compliant that Mr. Freed has that while both Obama and Romney were talking tough about defense neither one of them served in the military.   He noted that very few children of Congress people served in the military.  Mr. Freed stated that because so many people in power were removed from the war they did not understand the emotional costs of the war. (The Panda Bear notes that it is not just Congress and presidential candidates that behave this way.   The Panda Bear knows of many people who favor the US's involvement in foreign wars for humanitarian reason but these people aren't experiencing any suffering for their beliefs.)

The Panda Bear has seen it happen other times that well-meaning upper class people get moralistic about something  but they are not suffering nor making the sacrifices for the cause ;it is people with less money are power that are doing the dirty work.   The well meaning upper class people will be totally oblivious to their hypocrisy and their pushing a morality that they don't practice on people who are less affluent.   It is an unspoken class divide in US politics that the Panda Bear will explore in a later post.

However, Mr. Freed's piece about his son going to war highlights another aspect human behavior.   As much as people want to think of themselves as rational and not influenced by emotions they are.    Things seem very different when it personally effects you.   It is impossible for humans to be totally rational; human decisions always have some emotional basis even if the people aren't aware of them.

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