I was watching “The Giver” (again) ,which was also one of my favorite books, and … wait, if you have never seen or read “The Giver”:
The Giver is a 1993 American young-adult utopian novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a society which at first appears to be a utopian society but is later revealed to be a dystopian one as the story progresses. The novel follows an 11-year-old boy named Jonas. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, as there may be times where one must draw upon the wisdom gained from history to aid the community’s decision making. Jonas struggles with concepts of all the new emotions and things introduced to him: whether they are inherently good, evil, or in between, and whether it is even possible to have one without the other. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate and terrain, all in effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.
Basically, there is no love, not even any touching outside the “family unit”, children are all genetically engineered and birthed by “birth mothers” then assigned to family units. Any that do not meet The Community standards are “released” (aka: euthanized; however people have no memory or concept of death or murder, so they do not realize this) to “Elsewhere” (as are old people), which means no sex, even between spouses (again, because there is no memory or concept of what sex is). There’s also no music, art, literature, or any creative expression. The Community is of pure logical functionality and has no emotional depth. Hell, they literally do not have any memory or concept of color, not just skin color, but actual, chromatic color. In the movie, The Community members literally see in monochrome. On the other side, there is no pain, jealousy, anger, betrayal, war, death (in concept), loss, racism, discrimination, inequality, poverty, or Donald Trump.
So, it makes me wonder: Would you want to live in this type of society? Imagine that you know nothing of “The Receiver of Memory” and that all of the 3rd party omniscient parts of the story. You are just one of the members of The Community wrapped up in “Sameness”. Would that be a life worth living? No depth, but no strife and struggle either. You are assigned a job that is best suited for your skill sets, and you have no worries regarding finances. You are assigned a spouse (which, unfortunately the book does have a strong sense of heteronormativity) and two children, so there are no worries about dating and starting a family; however there is no love for any of them, you just enjoy them and take pride in their accomplishments. Again, no poverty, hunger, war…etc.
Everytime, I read this book or watch this movie I ponder this question. Honestly, my answer is usually always different. When I look at the world today, with all of the hatred coming out of people, people being discriminated against or murdered in the name of religion, financial markets in current turmoil, poverty, rampant mass shootings, and our own government at a slow pace to do anything about any of it because of party ideologies. I almost think “Sameness” wouldn’t be such a bad idea; however how long would that last? If we did receive our memories back, would we start this cycle of violence and hate all over again or learn from our mistakes?
At this point in history, I think we may need to give “Sameness” a shot; however we may just need to tweak its parameters a bit.
What do you think?