Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blue Dress Yellow Shoes Green Purse

A student I work with just finished reading "The Giver". Though I was in junior high, like so many others when they have to read this classic, I still remember how that book creeped me out. I've always been obsessed with memory, what it means, how to preserve it, how it teaches us, so The Giver sounded like my idea of hell. A society that lets only one person remember pleasure, pain, the feel of snow, the rush of a first kiss... hell.

But I forgot one of the other main ideas in the Society of "The Giver". The concept of choice. It comes up when Jonas, who is the next person chosen to keep all the memories of the community, learns about color. In his Society there is no color. He wishes that "colors still existed so that people could have the pleasure and freedom of choosing between them."

He thinks about it some more, and, since it is still early in the story and he has not quite realized how twisted the Society is, he comes to this conclusion: if people were allowed to choose between colors, they might get so used to making choices that they would want to choose their jobs and their spouses. These are decisions that will have a serious effect on their lives and on the life of the community, and a wrong choice could be disastrous. He then says “We really have to protect people from wrong choices." His community teaches that wrong choices are to be avoided at all costs to protect the Society from disruption and damage. The citizens accept this and allow designated knowledgeable people to make choices for them.

I've made dozens of major decisions in this past year that have had a significant impact on my life and sometimes on those around me. I think I live in a time and country where I'm afforded the opportunity to have more choices than in any era previous, in regards to finance, work, school, love, travel, media, clothes, beliefs... The overwhelming options for my generation, in some ways, can be a hindrance, with so many directions to go it can be difficult to choose just one, and then be happy with it.

But again, a society that left me no option but a grey dress to wear, every day, to save me from the responsibility of continually having to choose and possibly do it wrong... that is hell.

Be there disruption, damage or error, give me a wardrobe filled with every color of the rainbow.

1 comment:

Blasé said...

Yes, they can also be a hindrance!