27 March 2006

"We Really Have to Protect People from the Wrong Choices"

The Giver is one of my favorite children's books. One of my older sisters recommended it not long after it came out before all the controversy about it started. I simply was able to enjoy it. And I still do, despite some people's efforts to ban it and make it into some kind of book that promotes suicide and euthanasia.

One of the natural rights that gets batted around is the freedom from fear. It sounds nice and I like the idea. But is it really possible? Can a government do anything less than what Jonas' community does to nearly eliminate fear? I don't think so. There will always be fear and sadness as long as we love other people. Most of my fears are in relation to my family- whether they are safe and happy.

Certainly people shouldn't have to fear their government. That is something we can work for. But complete freedom from fear just wouldn't work.

I love Jonas and the Giver's conversation about choices. Jonas wishes that people could see colors and choose which color of shirt they want to wear. But the Giver points out that people might make the wrong choices. Jonas immediately sees the danger in letting people choose their own spouses and jobs- they might choose wrong. He knows it is much safer to let others make the choices, even though all the minor choices were eliminated too.

As my mother points out with this book, the people in the community chose to live like this- to give up the love and the grandparents and the individualism to avoid the jealousy, the fear, and the pain. While things aren't that extreme here, I do see countries choosing to give up their choices for more security. My husband's students are writing constitutions and the most popular style of government is a monarchy/superpresidential system. It is safer to have a strong leader. You think your country appears to be stronger. It is easier to have those choices taken away. And it's easy to not care. And it's hard for me to explain why they should care.

If my husband's students knew English better, I'd be interested to see what they think of this book.


  1. That is one of my all time favorite books and just recently exposed my husband to it. It's too bad that it's not translated into Russian.

  2. I will look for that book, Amira. Thanks for recommending it.

  3. I LOVE this book! As I read it for the first time I could visualize it in my head and feel it in my heart. I wish Speilberg would make this kids book into a movie. Perhaps then more would be exposed to it and read it for themselves.

    Terrific post, great way to promote thinking and ideas.