Jonas’ world was one that isn’t that difficult to imagine in America 2014.
In his world, everyone was treated equally. There was no social injustice, no hatred, and no distrust. Everyone was polite, orderly, truthful and peaceful.
Babies were brought into the world by birth mothers that turned their babies over to the community nursery until they were assigned by the elders to couples best suited to care for the little ones. Children were assessed at a very young age as to what line of work they were best suited to begin training for at age 12. Each one would serve his or her place in the community until he surpassed usefulness, then each was released.
At the anticipated ceremony marking his entrance into life work training, young Jonas realized his task would be unique. He alone would be mentored by one of the elders – The Giver.
Only The Giver was entrusted with memories of a world outside Jonas’ colorless surroundings. The world’s history was kept secret because it included pain, heartbreak and misery - something the city elders determined would be kept out of their world.
However, the history only The Giver knew was also made of joy, love and exhilaration – things none other than The Giver could recall.
That was until Jonas was selected by the community elders to be "The Receiver."
“The Giver” is a 1993 dystopian fiction by author Lois Lowry. It won the prized Newberry Medal as a selection fitting for pre-teens. Twenty years later, it is still taught in public schools in 5th, 8th and 11th grades.
The story of “The Giver” has impacted the hearts and minds of children for the past 20 years – and it is about to become the topic of discussions nationwide with the release of Walden Media’s film version that will open in theatres nationwide August 15th.
The world Jonas grew up in was meant to be utopic – a paradise created by rulers that wanted no more pain and misery. But what started out as protection from danger and pain eventually removed color, beauty and delight.
The Giver’s world is not difficult to imagine in America 2014 – where “village elders” do their best to protect children from distress, frustration and failure - where competition is abandoned for peer equality, accomplishment is valued less than “giving it our best,” and where games like Tag, Dodge Ball and Red Rover are banned.
The harsh truth is the only human experience that is free and worth living is one that includes good and bad, grief and exuberance, success and failure, love and hate.
The lessons Lowry conveyed in The Giver are many, but one major point is that modern day America truly has much to learn from those who’ve lived longer and who possess the exemplary traits of survival, of determination and liberty.
Rather than live padded, safe lives, America 2014 needs - whether we're prepared for it or not - more Givers and definitely more heroes like Jonas with the strength and courage to boldly lead America into a bright, new colorful future.
The Weinstein Company and Walden Media's "The Giver" will be in theatres nationwide August 15th.