Thursday, February 6, 2014

Freedom Fighters vs Terrorist

A topic analyzed in a previous blog was the meaning of the word justice. This topic can be applied to a variety of situations but in almost every case is ambivalent. Depending on which point of view a person takes in a certain situation, they will argue in support for that definition of justice. In situations dealing with the law, justice can often divide people into two different categories: freedom fighters and terrorists. A freedom fighter is a person who takes part in a violent struggle to achieve a political goal, especially to overthrow their government. A terrorist, on the other hand, is a person who uses violent acts to frighten people as a way of trying to achieve a political goal. Notice that the two definitions are very similar. That is because freedom fighters and terrorists are virtually the same. The only real difference is how a person feels about their actions, and they will name them according to how they feel.

I'd like to use the trilogy The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, as a reference to the conflict of the definition of justice and how it leads to the names of freedom fighters and terrorists. The Hunger Games is set in the country of Panem that is divided into twelve districts. Every year, the capitol of Panem draws two children from every district and the government forces the children to fight to the death until one stands as victor, an event the government ironically calls the Games. As the Games carry on, it is being taped and showed to all of the districts in Panem, who mourn the loss of their children, and to all the people in the capitol, who treat it as a celebration. This event serves as a warning to the districts to obey the government and reinforces the authority of the capitol of Panem. This method generally works; the people of the districts are too scared to fight against the government, at least until one girl, Katniss Everdeen, rises as the face of rebellion to the government of Panem.

It is easy for readers to see Katniss Everdeen as a freedom fighter, as the story is written from her point of view, which makes readers better able to understands Katniss' perspectives. Because of the society we live in and our high regard for children, it is also hard for readers to imagine cruelty towards children, making it even easier to see Katniss as a freedom fighter. Most of the people living in the districts would also claim that Katniss is a freedom fighter because she is fighting on their side and for their benefit. The government and all of the citizens living in the capitol, though, would argue that Katniss is a terrorist. She is going against the laws established by the government, which by definition would suggest that she is not serving justice and, therefore, would make her a terrorist. One could say that Katniss was fighting for the ethical side of justice, not the lawful side. But what about the perspectives of the citizens of the capitol? If they had been raised to believe that forcing these people's children to kill each other wasn't really a bad thing and were never forced to put themselves in that situation, they would honestly believe that Katniss wasn't fighting for justice at all and that she was a terrorist.

Is there a final answer to the question of which title Katniss Everdeen holds in The Hunger Games? If there wasn't such a conflicting definition to the word justice, it is possible that there would be. However, it is too controversial to claim Katniss Everdeen as a freedom fighter or as a terrorist. By definition, she could be called both.