"The Giver" of All Good Things
When I saw The Giver, I was surprised at how biblical the story was. I’ve always loved the third book in the series, Messenger, precisely because it’s so biblical (and so is the latest, and last, installment: Son), but I never considered the themes in The Giver overtly Christian. The director or writer of the script chose to emphasize a couple of themes in the book that resonate with us Christians.
In the dystopian world of the community, there is very little choice. People are assigned everything from parents to vocations to children. There is no love, no joy, and no beauty. Why? Because if these things are allowed, then pain and suffering will also be present. The community elders have removed all envy, anger, suffering, and inequality. They did this to avoid all suffering and disorder, but in doing this, they removed color, sex, love, family ties, and the freedom to choose. The head elder explains: “Differences, emotions were removed. . . . When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”
That’s true, isn’t it? We all bear that out. But the alternative is so dead. The beginning of the movie is in black and white, because that’s all the community can see. They are passively, ignorantly complacent people. They are not happy, but not unhappy. They are just compliant. But one person can see color, and feel pain. As he tells, Jonas, the protagonist, “Before (this system was imposed), there was more.” MORE. What an understatement. The first thing Jonas sees is the color red, and the first thing he is allowed to know and experience outside of the permitted community protocol is snow. He is thrilled and fascinated and asks why snow is no longer allowed. The Giver tells him that snow can cause problems, inconveniences, bring trouble. So it was eliminated. If we eliminate everything that causes problems, or inconveniences us, or brings trouble, we will have to throw out love, beauty, freedom, families, creativity, sex, achievement, art, etc., etc., etc.
People get so angry sometimes that God allows evil to exist in our world. I get very angry about evil, but I don’t know that I blame God. God is giving us the choice – a choice the people in the community were denied, and so were denied all good, too. We are given the choice every day. I choose God, and all the pain and joy that comes with that.