By: Emily Conley
At first, it looks like Utopia – war, violence, and diseases have been eliminated. Every family has a wife, husband, and children living in picturesque “dwellings” in perfectly ordered communities. Everyone and everything has a purpose. But something is … wrong.
First, the world has quite literally lost its color. And everything is the same.
It’s by design. In the fictional world of The Giver, the Elders have enforced “Sameness.” In order to eliminate war and violence, they had to first eliminate hate. To eliminate hate, they eliminated all diversity … leaving a society where all emotion, art, creativity, faith, race, freewill, and freedom is gone.
The Elders assign spouses, assign babies to the spouses, and assign occupations once children come of age. There is no right to choose. The Elders govern all speech and behavior.
But of course, no one wants war and violence, so everyone willingly submits to the daily injections that suppress emotion and free will.
Until Jonas. As the Receiver of Memory, he and The Giver are the only people with memories of the past, and are haunted by a time when life was different … “more complete.”
No spoilers here, but the ideas of the all-seeing, all-controlling, Big Brother government often present in dystopian novels raise some interesting questions. In this movie (and book), this government controls more than just action, but belief and morality – this is Big Conscience.
To ensure “Sameness,” everyone's moral compasses have conformed to what the Elders have determined is “right” and “wrong.” And since “right” is defined by obeying the rules, anyone disobeying the Big Conscience for any reason is obviously “wrong.”
Even committing murder, when instituted by the Big Conscience and called another name, is “right.”
We’re not there yet. But we’re not far. Today, people in positions of power or influence have determined a view of morality, especially in the areas of life, marriage, and sexuality, and they enforce widespread conformity. Those who stand up to the accepted views are assumed to be “wrong,” and bad for society.
Healthcare workers like Cathy DeCarlo, a group of 12 nurses in New Jersey, and others have lost, or almost lost, their jobs for refusing to take lives in abortions – in essence, refusing to conform their conscience to Big Conscience that decided that ending a life in the womb is morally right.
Pharmacy owner Kevin Stormans refused to sell life-ending drugs, and now faces losing his license.
Photographers Elaine and Jon Huguenin, cake baker Jack Phillips, and florist Barronelle Stutzman have lost businesses, been sued, faced jail time, and “re-education” for choosing to live by their conscience and their moral belief of what marriage is – a union of one man and one woman.
Business owners like the Hahns of Conestoga Wood and the Greens of Hobby Lobby, Christian colleges, and even nuns (and many, many others) who do not want to fund the ending of life by paying for life-ending drugs through their insurance, have had to fight for their right to live by their conscience.
“Precision of language!” Jonas’s mother, among others, admonishes him for using words like “Love,” that are “antiquated” and “have no meaning in modern society.” By controlling speech, the Elders control ideas.
This same idea is prevalent in today’s universities, where speech codes and speech zones control what is acceptable to say, when, and where.
Like Ryan Dozier, who was told that free speech was allowed on campus in the “Free Speech Zone” on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 12pm and 1pm.
And Professor Kenneth Howell, who was fired for teaching the Catholic view of sexuality in his class, “Intro to Catholicism.”
“You can stop this!” The Giver (Jeff Bridges) pleads with the chief Elder (Meryl Streep), as a young girl is about to be lethally injected.
She refuses. “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”
When Big Government becomes Big Conscience, we lose our freedom to choose. Our society is in danger of losing our diversity, and our freedom, especially the freedom to abide by a conscience grounded in moral truth.
Don’t miss this movie. After you see it, discuss the deeper themes in the movie with your friends and family. Support the freedom for people to live by their conscience by living by voting, and joining our alliance. And most importantly, act on your conscience.
As the Giver tells Jonas: “You can make things better!”
If we act now to protect the freedoms we have, we may never have to reach the same conclusion Jonas does. At one point in the film, as Jonas is trying to save the life of a baby, Jonas’s best friend tries to stop him.
“It’s against the rules!” He says.
Jonas responds: “I know it’s against the rules – but it’s right!”
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