Will the pro-life movement grow and triumph, or will it die? The stakes could not be higher. At risk are the millions of preborn children, elderly, handicapped citizens, and countless others who will someday be deemed inconvenient and destroyed.
That is enough, but that is not all. A society that denies the dignity of the person would also offer squalid and stunted lives to even the healthy, the young, and the strong.
That is the message of The Giver, a beautiful and entertaining new movie that was released on August 15, starring Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges. Based on a wildly popular young adult novel — which is so good that squeamish liberals are trying to have it banned from public schools — The Giver depicts a soulless future utopia, and a young man who fights against it.
It’s a skillful updating of the same issues found in classics such as Brave New World and “Harrison Bergeron,” that resonates with young readers for very good reasons: The Giver depicts the kind of world that their parents are making for them, and warns them what it will be like.
Glenn Beck’s The Blaze describes the world of The Giver as
a stripped down, manicured, post-apocalyptic suburb completely controlled by a benevolent nanny-state…. In this society, children are genetically engineered for perfect health, and assigned by teams of experts to appropriate “nurturers.” As they complete high school, each one is assigned his role for the rest of his life, as determined by matching his talents with the current needs of society—no messy, wasted years spent “finding oneself,” or painful failures in business or careers. The market has been completely replaced by the state….
No one is very happy, but no one is ever tortured by depression, hatred, or rage. There is no prayer, no crime, no violence. Extreme behavior is made impossible by the daily injections each person takes, which suppress all strong emotions. That includes “love,” of course. Couples live together and seem to really like each other. They share prepackaged food at pristine dinner tables, and engage in scheduled periods of “sharing” the mild feelings that they experienced throughout the day. Things seem as if they have always been this way, and could well go on forever—in a black-and-white godless heaven carefully engineered here on earth, much like the utopia dreamed up by the young Karl Marx.
Errors are quickly corrected. “Defective” babies and old people, dissenters and those who refuse to take their medicine, are “assigned to elsewhere”—which means being painlessly put to death with a simple injection.
In other words, it is the kind of society that kind-hearted, highly educated liberals spend their lives trying to build from Western Europe to Patagonia. The world of The Giver is what people seek when they vote for men like Barack Obama, send checks to Planned Parenthood, and slap “Coexist” bumper stickers on their Volvos. It’s their Mecca, their Shangri-La, their New Jerusalem.
No wonder liberal critics are trashing The Giver. It tips their hand. It reveals too much, too soon, about the dream of the Culture of Death—whose goal isn’t really death, per se. Our enemies don’t want to kill babies and old people, cripples and retarded children, out of a sheer homicidal glee. Were we facing foes like Genghis Khan whose only plan was to heap up pyramids of skulls, our task would be far simpler.
Instead, we fight a set of people with no sharp edges or pointy helmets. They do not love death. They’re afraid of life. They see human existence as nothing more than a drawn-out tale of suffering and disappointment, that ends in an unmarked grave and eternal oblivion. To such “subhumanists,” all men are lemmings.
For subhumanists, our only duty is to diminish each other’s suffering, to take away needless occasions of frustration, failure, and pain—and maybe intone a few uplifting folk songs that cheer people up as they march toward the cliff. When they look at pro-lifers such liberals see a sad, deluded faction that projects some fantastical meaning onto mankind’s annihilation, and imposes futile anguish along the way. And all for nothing. The subhumanist prayer was penned by Ernest Hemingway, in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”:
Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.
This is the creed of an old, exhausted culture, a toothless muttering burnout gnawing on ancient grudges as he spits at passing schoolkids. It is not a view of life that any normal young man or woman would embrace, unless you imposed it upon him by force—and even then, he would rebel, as the hero of The Giver rebels. A teenager schooled and formed entirely by the subhumanists of the future, he awakens to the evil that surrounds him when he discovers the fate of “imperfect” infants in his society—a pallid, painless death at the point of a well-intentioned needle. He sees in the destruction of an infant the pure, unalloyed truth of his society, and of ours: It is afraid to be alive.
And he says no. He chooses the risks and wrongs of a truly human existence over numbness, comfort, and safety. He learns that human beings had not always and everywhere lived as anaesthetized lemmings. Some were villains, and others heroes. There were lovers and monks and warrior kings, poets and perverts and patriarchs. He embraces the richness and pain, the beauty and tragedies, of mankind’s past. He chooses Life.
And so will we. More young Americans consider themselves pro-life than at any time since Roe v. Wade. And that is only natural, for young people full of animal passion and vigor to want to really live life—not plod along wearing elbow pads and helmets, dosing themselves on painkillers to avoid every risk of suffering. As pro-lifers, our task should be easy. People already love their children, and it takes the most profound perversion to convince them to kill them. It takes the pervasive lie which warns that the children will suffer, that we will suffer if we don’t kill them, and that all of it will be for nothing. For nada.
Young people don’t want to believe that dismal lie. But they do need us to buck them up, to support their gut feeling that life has meaning and value, and others will help them if they embrace it. They need to know they are not alone.
This week, a publisher is printing the book I have been working toward for twenty years: The Race to Save Our Century. I would like right here to give away its ending:
We can treat people as if they were robots, ghosts, or beasts. We can starve, enslave, imprison them, or kill them. But that doesn’t change the reality. If we look up, and also within, we will find the mysterious image and likeness of God. We will discover the truth that we and our neighbors have an incomparable beauty and worth. A dignity that no one can take away.
Our thousand-year reichs, our workers’ paradises, our brave new worlds, are ghastly fantasies that human beings create, and that history duly comes along and exposes. And what is left behind, bruised and battered but still unbowed, is the face of Man—as noble and as beautiful as Adam reaching out his hand to the God who made him. We will remember that, and we will do what is needed. We will feel from the depths of our hearts to the highest flights of our imagination a love of the Good, a hatred of cruelty and smallness of soul, and a loyalty to each and every member of our family, the human family. We will fight to enshrine the basic principles of decency in our political, economic, and personal lives. We will have courage. We will prevail.
You can help us prevail by making The Giver a box office hit—by going to see it and bringing your friends, by bringing the young adults whom you love to see it. (And let your school board know that you don’t want the book The Giver banned from the curriculum.) Even better, volunteer to help spread the word about this powerful, truth-telling movie by becoming a “theater captain” who helps fill seats.
When I founded Movie to Movement—after helping to distribute and market Bella—it was to help ensure the success of movies that build up a culture of life, truth, and beauty. Along the way, I’ve advocated for wonderful films such as Gimme Shelter and 2016: Obama’s America. But nothing I have come across has quite the same power as The Giver. None was so laser-focused on burning out the evil that could poison our children’s future. Please help us. Join the fight.
Jason Jones is a filmmaker and human rights activist. His film projects include The Stoning of Soraya M., Bella, and Crescendo. He works directly to aid the homeless, peoples facing genocide, and women with crisis pregnancies. He is president of Movie to Movement and the Human Rights Education Organization (H.E.R.O.).