It had been a while since I had read The Giver by Lois Lowry, but when a classmate of mine mentioned the book, I thought it was time I finally checked out the movie (and it is on Netflix right now). Keep in mind, I read the book during middle school, and that was some time ago, so my comments below are going to be reflective of the movie rather than the book.
The Giver puts the viewer in what is believed to be a form of utopia. In this perfectly planned society, everyone is evaluated through their formative years to find what career they are most suited for. The judgment of the planning committee is above suspicion; they must be right because they are always right. They would never place anyone in the wrong career, assign anyone to the wrong family or do anything that would negatively impact the community.
Most people simply go along with that. They have daily injections that are meant to suppress their emotions, and as such, their desire for something different or something more is simply sucked away. They have lost the capacity to dream for anything better and instead accept the reality and rationality of the here and now. Humanity is reduced to biological functioning.
You might wonder why I continually argue for the freedom of the public square. This is part of the reason. The freedom to express yourself is consistent with your humanity. Humans are expressive creatures. Created in the image of God, we are thinking, reasoning, emotional and feeling individuals. If you start to take away some of these capacities, you start to take away some of what we essentially are.
Obviously, we do not have governmentally-mandated daily injections that suppress our emotions, but there is certainly societal pressure to fall in line. Plenty has been written about this phenomenon, but it is no secret that there is cultural pressure to force certain ideas on people. Like the planning committee in The Giver, they might say they are doing it for the good of society. They think that they are eliminating the undesirable thoughts or emotions that cause pain, but in doing so, they are fundamentally changing humanity. Why do they do this?
We can take the more cynical position that governments do this to maintain their power over a more malleable population, or we can take the less cynical position that governments are trying to help society by eliminating things that are painful.
However, the fact of the matter is that we live in an imperfect world. It is fallen from its created goodness. The pain is going to be there despite all of our efforts to remove it. There is only One who is going to be able to take away that pain. There is only One who is going to bring about perfection. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it is not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
The consequences of that effort is what you see in The Giver. Certainly, the planners have eliminated some types of pain, but they have created other types of pain that need to be blocked out artificially through medication. They stop one problem, but they create another.
In essence, that is all that our human endeavors to create perfection are going to be. We live in a fallen world, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. We can try to make the world a better place, and we should do that. However, when we try to “make improvements” in ways that are not consistent with the way God created the world, the consequences are going to be painful as well. You might even end up in a worse place than where you started before you try to “fix” the problem.