The Giver: The Danger of Removing Emotion from Life Issues

Jonas saves the life of a baby in The Giver

I couldn’t help but recall Beryl Otieno Ngoje’s story as I watched the movie The Giver, based on the Newbery Medal winning book by Lois Lowry.

The particular scene that jumped out at me was the most difficult to watch, but stuck with me long after the movie ended. The protagonist, Jonas (played by Brenton Thwaites), watches his father kill a baby under the disguise of “release.”   The raw emotion Jonas feels as he realizes that his father took a life—had taken many lives and would continue to do so—is heart wrenching.

It’s how I imagine Beryl felt when her manager, who was also a nurse at Same Day Surgery Unit at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, excitedly ran up to her at work one day, clenching her fist. When she opened her hand—to Beryl’s dismay—she saw the form of tiny baby that had just been aborted.

“I felt like somebody had just hit me with something in my face,” she said.

Shock. Anguish. Sorrow.

For Beryl, these emotions were later followed with absolute horror when she learned that her workplace would now require that all nurses assist and clean up after abortions.  Beryl was one of 12 nurses who took a stand against this disregard for human life and violation of their freedom to live by their conscience. With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys, Beryl and the other nurses won their case and preserved their right to not participate in abortions.

But Jonas’ reaction to his father’s actions does not require an explanation, does it? In fact, I highly doubt anyone watching this movie would wonder to themselves why he reacted with such emotion as he watched Father (Alexander Skarsgård) inject a needle into the baby’s skull.  What’s inexplicable is Father’s face as he commits this act–emotionless.

“He can’t help it,” the Giver (Jeff Bridges) tells a distraught Jonas, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

How is it even possible, you might ask, not to feel that emotion? Not to understand that taking a life is wrong?  Or for that matter, not to understand that what he was doing was actually taking a life and that “release” is not natural or to be celebrated?

Beryl knew it. She felt it deep within her soul as she cried over the dead baby in her manager’s hand. Jonas knew it. With each new memory he received, Jonas learned the truth—life is sacred, life is full of emotion, and life is worth living.

I’ve read far too many articles lately that attempt to make light of abortion, and the 56,662,169 lives ended since Roe v. Wade. They attempt to convince these mothers that there is no place for emotion when it comes to choosing to end their child’s life. They call the unborn baby a fetus. They compare getting an abortion to getting a root canal or filling a cavity.  “It’s not taking a life at all,” they say.

What is it then…release?

“They didn’t eliminate murder,” Jonas says of the Elders, “they just call it by another name.”

Life isn’t perfect. Humans aren’t perfect. But The Giver is a warning for all of us of what can happen when we take emotion out of life and fail to recognize it as the most sacred gift we’ve all been given.

 By Marissa Poulson, Web Writer

Have you seen The Giver? Leave a comment below: what scene stood out the most to you?

Author: Alliance Defending Freedom