The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

by Oliver DeMille

“Somehow it all comes back to coal in school. Besides basic reading and math, most of our instruction is coal-related. Except for the weekly lecture on the history of Panem. It’s mostly a lot of blather about what we owe the Capitol. I know there must be more than they’re telling us, an actual account of what happened during the rebellion. But I don’t spend much time thinking about it. Whatever the truth is, I don’t see how it will help me get food on the table.”

mockingjayThis quote comes from the great freedom classic entitled The Hunger Games. Note that the name of the fictional country is Panem, which is a code-name for “Bread and Circuses.”

The quote is so true. When the regular people in a society believe that putting food on the table is the main purpose of their life, they don’t spend much time thinking about freedom—and as a result they always lose it.



Freedom is lost when ruling is left to a few elites. Unless the regular people think about history, freedom and leadership—a lot—freedom is always reduced.

And note that when any elite group does take over ruling the people, in any era of world history, that group reads and thinks a lot about freedom, history, leadership and economics.

When the masses are focused on putting food on the table, a few elites run things and freedom disappears.

Welcome to modern America, where even the focus of our schools centers around job training and putting food on the table. Of course, when the regular people focus on keeping their nation free, everyone has more food. But the masses tend to forget this.

The Hunger Games trilogy is one of the best books I’ve ever read on freedom. It shows what happens when the regular people let their freedoms be taken. It shows where we are headed as a society.

According to historical cycles and current trends, we are in a battle for freedom right now, and we lost the last one in 1913. The law of entropy is working powerfully on the world, and it’s going to take something big to stop this train and give freedom a victory. This book has the power to give our youth a clear understanding of what the battle is, why past generations have lost, and what they can do to win this time! On top of that, it shows—in terms that can’t be ignored—the real cost of failure.

This battle is going to be hard, and it’s going to require extreme personal sacrifice from almost everyone involved. Understanding what failure means is something that will help our warriors stay strong against incredible difficulty.

To put it simply, our youth will be fighting a battle that will determine the future of freedom for their children and grandchildren. The opposition understands this war, in and out. So, to really win, we have to prepare ourselves and our youth to face them. We need to understand what the fight is, how defeat the enemy, and what it really means to win or lose. This book has the answers and it teaches them in powerful and meaningful ways.

It is also the best book I’ve ever read showing how bad abortion really is. When a nation is willing to kill its children for its convenience … well, that’s what this book is about.

I know that the book has received a lot of acclaim and popularity for other reasons, and is often grouped with other popular “teen fiction”. But this book is not for children, and it doesn’t pander to popular culture. This is a serious book for serious youth and adults, who ought to be discussing its central themes in earnest.

I’m glad it’s received so much attention. We need to soak up these messages and realize how vitally important they are. The Hunger Games is a great freedom classic like Utopia or 1984!

If you haven’t read the book, don’t knock it. And if you’ve seen the movie, it isn’t even close to the same thing. The book is a great freedom classic. Sadly, most conservatives haven’t figured this out—mainly because they’re distracted by the movie instead of really reading the whole trilogy.

Back in the 1970s, the environmental movement did something really smart. Its leaders realized that trying to convince most adults of the Green cause was going to face stiff opposition, so they adopted a different strategy. They took their message to the youth, and they made it emotional rather than intellectual.

Today many people over fifty are still arguing the science and facts concerning the environment and environmental policy, but pretty much nobody under thirty cares. The rising generation all feels deeply about the environment. This was a very smart strategy.

Conservatives have the chance right now to do the same thing with abortion, if they are smart enough. The Hunger Games does it, if conservative leaders and thinkers will only let it. One favorite book of mine that I can compare it to, for reference to slavery, oppression, violence, deliverance, heroism, forgiveness – is Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. This is in that genre.

This book should be read by every youth today, and discussed with a parent or adult who understands these themes and can help each youth see them clearly! This isn’t just another Harry Potter or Twilight that focus on dark themes. I mean, abortion, poverty, war and the overthrow of the republic are dark themes, for sure, but it’s also a current reality.

We don’t have a bunch of actual magicians or vampires who suck peoples’ necks in our neighborhoods, but we have aborted over 53 million babies in recent America. And The Hunger Games makes an incredibly compelling case against this—in a way that our modern youth are feeling it and can’t ignore it.

If only the adults will help them see the connections!

And, by the way, abortion is only one of five powerful freedom themes in this excellent series. Read this book! It’s a world-changer.

Disclaimer: this book has mature themes – violence, extreme poverty, oppression, etc.


Image Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd. He is the NY Times Bestselling co-author of LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through Leadership Education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.