With a gun to her throat, Katniss Everdeen reminds her shooter and everyone around him that the puppet master in their cycle of violence is President Snow. It’s the oppression that rains down from the Capitol.
Don’t attack one another, she says. Look at the reality. Take down the system.
If you think about it, she’s not so different from Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) in “Spotlight,” courageously digging for the truth about Boston’s Catholic Church sex abuse cover-ups. The power of the hierarchy and much of the city loomed against him and his fellow reporters.
These movies share the same message: Speak truth to power.
I wasn’t just moved when I saw these films, which opened in KC this weekend. I was also tense, sad and a little uncomfortable. There is no escape. We are living similar fights. Whether we are talking about Syrian refugees, #ConcernedStudent1950, #BlackLivesMatter, women’s rights, transgender visibility or marriage equality, we are living during a time of civil unrest.
There are people who deny there is a hierarchy, a patriarchy, a social, political and economic system built on inequality.
There are people who are scared to admit this truth. There are people who hear the truth and want to silence you. Equality and true justice scare folks. I’m no strong, arrow-slinging rebel. And I’m not on a super investigative team, either. But I know what it’s like to give voice to the voiceless. I understand the hardship in getting real about injustice. I feel the anxiety in the pit of my stomach every time I write about sexism, racism, homophobia and every other taboo topic.
People don’t just disagree, they attack. Every time I (or The Star’s Mary Sanchez, Lewis Diuguid or Yael Abouhalkah) lean into my truth, it comes with backlash, with hate mail and phone calls and handwritten letters attacking my skin, my gender and my intelligence. When I dare to speak out it also means I might get the rare — but yes it does happen — death threat.
And it’s hard. At times it’s emotionally destructive. But as I watched Katniss and the Boston Globe’s Spotlight reporters I also felt empowered. These movies are important reminders to speak our truth, to rage against injustice and fight the power.
We have no strength, no chance and no hope when we rest in silence, inaction and division. President Snow abused his power and leaned on his citizens to tear down the Mockingjay and put out her fire. But she did not wane. And soon, citizens joined her rebellion.
There were only three reporters and an editor on the Spotlight team. But they had upper management standing behind the hard story and against an almighty religious institution. And that’s all you need, a few people to band together and stand up for what’s right to start a domino effect of change.
In the face of hate mail and trolls who want to silence me, I will not be quiet. From my editor to my readers who constantly remind me to keep writing even when they disagree with me — I have an army, too. Thanksgiving came early this year. And I’m grateful.
We all have a story to tell. As we tell it, it’s not just that I hope the odds are in our favor. I want freedom and unity for us all.