17 October 2012
Truth in, Will Out
Memories, like a great paradigm, link the past to the present, and the present with the soon-to-be. Take them away, and life standstills. Unable to recall upon truth or observation. Unable to see certainty or reason. Unable to recollect on the past, and forever lost in the present. In The Giver by Lois Lowry, Jonas is ruled by a community astray from life. He bears a role few have ever known. He is granted a life among those who are blind to it.
Jonas thrives while everyone else remains in place. He flourishes while they fill time. His perception full of competence, while theirs of inadequacy. He lives amongst those who merely survive. Jonas is more alone than ever. He can no longer live in a society too lost to sense the sensible. Jonas’ feelings are felt. Theirs hold only emptiness. Even his friends are incapable of comprehending the emotional complexity of his heart and it upsets Jonas that there is no way to reach them – no way to help them understand or help them see. Jonas soon realizes those closest to him – the same he’d known all his life – “were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself” (99) because he could do nothing but witness the people he knew to be real, drift away. The invalidity of his relationships skews his ability to live harmoniously within the community, for none will ever see eye-to-eye with his.
The members of the community lack a heart. They are simply going through the motions, in that none hold any significant reason or meaning behind their actions. They are wandering aimlessly – out of mind, out of life, without sight. Jonas has a grip on reality. He holds reason in each step, and practicality in every thought. Knowledge cannot reside in those who cannot see clearly. And if learning cannot progress, life is oblivion. Jonas has principles, unlike many others. He understands the savagery in releasing innocent beings, when the members of the community merely see protocol. He longs a place where people fight for knowledge and for complacency rather than conformity and sameness. A place where people see each other with their hearts instead of their heads. Jonas “wondered what lay in the far distance where he had never gone” (106) – the same place he witnessed fill his heart the day he received his first memory. The others can’t even peer into the depths of their own hearts, let alone see Jonas for the person he truly is. Their eyes fall short to thoughts of life beyond the community, while Jonas is shoving his way through the crowds to piece together what little fragments of truth he carries. Although this sequesters him from the rest, he’s got one thing they don’t have – something worth living for.
Life within the community is routine. Change is refuted, while truth remains forgotten. There aren’t any choices. No need to plan ahead, or to prepare for a life much different from the rest. The community feels it’s in their best interest to protect themselves from the wrong choices. The pressure to conform leaves no room for expression. And without expression, the very basis of individuality becomes squandered by similarities. As the others serve to forfeit their beliefs upon confining themselves to the community, they abandon their perspective. If they cannot perceive life