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All for the sake of a quality called "Sameness,"

Slafennog's picture

It seems a bit silly, even now, the idea that your life can be changed, simply because you read a book. That doesn’t seem like a normal things to happen to people, I mean most of the other kids in my class didn’t even do the reading. I did, I always did. I grew up in a town that no one would ever call Diverse, let alone multicultural. I grew up in a sea of white, welsh, cisgender, deeply Methodist, photocopies. They all looked, walked, and talked just like me; that never changed, and no one seemed to ever want to change; generation after generation. I was in my freshman year when I read The Giver for the first time; it is a book that describes a community that lacks any color, memory, feelings and difference whatsoever, all for the sake of a quality called “Sameness”. Throughout the book, a boy named Jonas struggles with knowing what the community gained as there is no pain, struggle, or war in this society, however there is also no emotion, memory, choices, or love. To say I was entranced by this dystopian state would be an understatement to say the least. And the idea that “if everything's the same, then there aren't any choices;  I want to wake up in the morning and decide things!” was very appealing to me at the time. Freshman year was a big change for me, I started Varsity Track, I got into student government, I changed friends group, I even got a boyfriend. Everything was different, and I wouldn’t say that I was not happy, but I knew, somewhere deep down, I knew something was not right in my life. In the book I recognized this relative “sameness” in my own life, and the idea that there was something else -in the book it was called “Elsewhere”- that I could look for, that I didn’t know about, was very profound to me at the time.

 As I look back now, I often look back at my one dimensional “sameness’ with everything from fondness, to distress, and every emotion in between. There are so many things I now see on a daily basis that my classmates will never even think to think about, they will never know, never care. And I can still see my 15 year old self, ranting at my family “Of course you need to care. It was the meaning of everything.” And my mother rolling her eyes and saying, again with the damn book! I still think I was right of course, you need to care about others. But how do you care for others if you don’t know about them, and that is where I lose my ability to fault my classmates. Just like everyone around Jonas, they don’t know about the people of elsewhere, and the pain and the memories that the people of elsewhere do experience. So who is at fault here? The ignorant people, the leaders of the town, the giver who knows of elsewhere, Jonas who is given the chance to learn?  That I still do no know.